Valentino – Decade of the Finest Food in Ft. Lauderdale

May 17, 2018

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Post image for Valentino – Decade of the Finest Food in Ft. Lauderdale

620 S Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

Decade of the Finest Food in Ft. Lauderdale

Reviewed by: Billy Wisdom
International Food & Wine Editor

Food & Service: We have been frequenting Valentino since its 2006 inception and it’s been serving the best food in town from opening week. Although Valentino was a well kept secret among well-heeled “foodies” for some time, this did not last long as Proprietor and Executive Chef Giovanni Rocchio’s consistently excellent cutting edge cuisine was impossible to keep under wraps.

Valentino's Private Dining Room is Wonderful for Special Events

Word got out about the food and the servers that recited all the nightly specials by heart, and Valentino was soon discovered by food and wine enthusiasts from Miami Beach to Palm Beach.  We at are partly responsible since we could not hold back from sharing our scintillating dining experiences to our circle of foodie friends.

After the first six years of success in a small location in Ft. Lauderdale and longing for more space including a full service bar, a large contemporary chic restaurant with a private dining room was built nearby to accommodate the culinary needs of South Florida foodies. Valentino successfully expanded to its new location on Federal Highway just south of the New River Tunnel. The consistency of their superb cuisine has been flowing seamlessly in the new location which affords a large open kitchen for its well trained kitchen staff to work their culinary magic.

Valentino Champagne Reception

Although some restaurants are not as good or not the same after expansion, Valentino only got better. Chef Rocchio has traveled the culinary world and incorporates internationally diversified flavors and techniques into his innovative Italian based menu. Giovanni is well known for his willingness to invite other great chefs from around the globe to cook side by side with him at Valentino. “G” is always an eager student, putting ego aside in the pursuit of more garnering culinary knowledge. Up and coming chefs take note!!

Recently upon returning from an assignment reviewing the Best Restaurants in Asia, I had the opportunity to once again experience Valentino with an invite from the Baleige of the Fort Lauderdale Chapter of Chaine Des Rotisseurs [an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950]. I knew to reschedule my earlier appointments slated for that night in order to attend this specially arranged and sold out dinner event in Valentino’s Private Dining Room.

The Pre-Dinner Reception was smartly arranged in Valentino’s adjoining sister restaurant ‘One Door East’, which offers Asian inspired tapas style cuisine that we enjoy frequently. This vast comfortable space was perfect to start the evening with bite size Hors d’oeuvres that were served with a small grower Michel Gronet 2011 Vintage Champagne. Following this reception, we proceeded next door to Valentino’s private dining room for the six course dinner main event.

The 1st Course of Basil Crusted Tuna was seared rare; the softness of which paired perfectly with the crispy shallots scattered on the beautifully presented dish.

Valentino Scallops

The 2nd Course consisted of Jumbo Diver Scallops seared to perfection that melted like marrow on the mid palate on first bite. This was molecular gastronomy at its finest with the physical and chemical transformations felt by the crunchiness of Salsify, Fennel and the silkiness of Hibiscus Gel.  The dish matched well with Antinori’s popular Chardonnay 2016 Bramito Della Sala from Umbria.

Valentino Buratta

The 3rd Course was  Burrata which was creamy and liquefied when it touched the palate.  This dish was served with Basil Seed and Black Garlic (for those that do not know this type of garlic, it is made by heating and caramelizing the garlic for hours until it wrinkles), White Turkish Anchovies  and Sourdough. We could not resist asking for extra anchovies that taste almost like candy… they are so naturally sweet.

The 4th Course was a Caramelized Onion Pline (A pasta we had never heard of) with Parmesan Espuma and a Beef Tendon which has been appropriately named by gourmands as  “nasty bite” (not to be mistaken for tenderloin). We had a luscious 2009 Experiment P49 that was a proprietary Bordeaux blend by Ovid, one of the characteristics of which is thick viscosity that you could cut with a knife.

The 5th Course was Beef Short Ribs Braised so tender that it melted in our mouths. This was accompanied with Fonduta Potatoes, Pole Beans and Salsa Verde.

Valentino Short Rib

The 6th and Final Course was a Smoked White Chocolate Mousse (may have been even better with dark chocolate) with an astringent Grapefruit Curd and Coriander Crumble which was rescued by the 1975 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes that we enjoyed with each bite.

As always when you are dining at Valentino, amazing wines from around the world are available, and served by Certified Sommeliers who smartly guide you through the available choices each night.

Due to the synchronization between the kitchen staff with the timing and the service displayed by the wait staff, we had an elevated dining experience.  Maintenance of consistency of food prepared to such high quality over the course of twelve (12) years coupled with superb service merits the rarely awarded Dinner Reviews’ 5-Star Award to Valentino in Food, Service and Ambiance. We urge all readers to hurry in to have a memorable dining experience and mention Billy Wisdom and sent you.

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