When my friends and I talk about Italian food, the name ‘Valentino’ always pops up. Valentino (at least in Singapore, and in the food world) is almost synonymous with ‘squid ink pasta and crabmeat!!’. My friend’s very generous parents brought us along to Valentino, their favourite Italian restaurant in Singapore. They told us we had to go with them because we didn’t know how to order the good stuff that’s off the menu. And since food was already ordered by the time I got there, I do not know half of the food that we had!
But overall: This place is absolutely packed to the brim for dinners, and reservations are a must. It’s been years and this place has developed a steady following, and there’s really no doubt why. The prices are high, but everything you get on your plate is quality. It’s years of cooking honed to perfection, with everything done just right. The atmosphere is cosy and rustic, verrry relaxing. You get the best service too, with waiters being extremely chatty, helpful and friendly. Service is quick and observant. Different members of the family/ kitchen come out to check on you at various times of the meal, and they’re truly open to feedback. It also feels super good to be dining in a completely family run restaurant, where you can sense the passion and desire to provide a flawless dining experience. Also, I utterly love Italian food.
Ciabatta Bread ($6.50). Baked on demand and served hot to you. It’s lightly salted, very fragrant, chewy with a crunchy crust. Enjoy it by dipping in the pesto dip provided.
Scallops. First of the off-the-menu dishes. You know a good scallop when you bite down into one – not too soft, not too hard, juicy, that distinctive sweet scallop taste – this was it. Paired with a light tomato sauce and lemon to make for a bright start to the meal.
Everyone here eats the famed Squid Ink Fettuccine with Crabmeat in Creamy Tomato Sauce ($29.90). The portion is pretty small, but every mouthful is delicious. I’ve always found this word funny, but it is appropriate to use it here – this pasta is definitely moreish. We were sharing everything, and it took much restraint for me to not reach out and have more. The sauce is packed with tomato and crab flavours, and is also creamy without being too cloying. Their homemade squid ink fettucine is cooked to al dente perfection, and each noodle is so beautifully coated with that luxurious sauce. On top of all that, the crab meat is ridiculously fresh, soft and tasty. Every spoonful is a delight. I’d have this again and again! Really wished it was bigger.
Fettucine Ragu that’s also not on the menu. My friend says that they always opt for whatever ragu Mama has prepared for the day. The meat was tender, and the shreds were softened and seasoned from all the stewing it went through. It’s a drier pasta, but that was good, to allow all that flavours of the meat to shine through.
Pan Fried Beef with Rocket Salad and Potatoes. Off the menu! Isn’t surprising anymore huh. Done medium rare, evenly seared on the edges, and beautifully raw on the inside. I’m not the best at describing beef, but good bite and a pleasant flavour throughout chew. Those fried potatoes too – I’ve never had potatoes like this. Sort of lightly breaded, and fried golden brown. The potatoes here are like the ones I’ve had in Germany, starchy and dense, but also slightly sweet.
Pork Knuckle. Meat that is fall off the bones tender. Check out all the pork fats that have melted away into the gravy! It was good, but I’m still a Chinese pork knuckle person.
Mama Valentino’s Spring Chicken Special ($48.90). Another dish that’s off the menu. The stock was so rich and the chicken was so tender, everything just fell off the bones with a slight scrape. A tad salty, but that can be overlooked with all the effort going into that stock.
Rounded off the meal with Creme Brulees to share. It was a bit toooo sweet for my liking, plus we had just come back from Hong Kong where we had an amazing rendition of a creme brulee from Paul Lafayet. I’d probably stick to a safe bet of Tiramisu, though I’m not sure how the one here fares.
Worth pampering yourself here with the pastas!!! You’ll definitely have lots of fun in this lovely family trattoria.
(The place is hard to find if you’re walking, so ask for directions in The Grandstand. And drive/ take a taxi!)
Ristorante da Valentino
200 Turf Club Road, #01-19
Tues to Sun: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays