On July 14th, one of Las Vegas’s best restaurants will close, and slowly fade into another footnoted memory of gastronomic wonders gone by. Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino is not only one of our best, but it has also been one of our most influential eateries over the past thirteen years – a top shelf operation helmed by a passionate chef who considered it his duty to be at the stoves, not in front of the cameras.
People tend to forget Luciano Pellegrini’s James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2004, but it was this early recognition (along with Bradley Ogden’s Best New Restaurant award in the same year) that put our culinary scene in the world’s cross hairs, and directly led to the French revolution (Robuchon, Savoy et al) that was soon to follow.
When we think back over the years about what this place has meant to us, we will remember its pasta – like Pellegrini’s ethereal squid ink with crab:
…or the sips and savors of whatever vino Piero was pouring that night. Or everything from Luciano’s little birds (the man has a way with small things that fly), or the ostrich steaks (birds that don’t), or the velvety gelatos (that slid over the tongue with a smooth intensity that was practically shocking):
No, as much as we’ll miss all of those sensations (and the knowledge that this is one place we could always pop into and never be disappointed), what we will always remember will be those nights sitting at the bar or around the table with Piero, while Luciano brings us course after course of Italian food straight from his heart — the both of them regaling us with information, anecdotes and storytelling about every bite and sip we would take.
Because, as good a restaurateur as Selvaggio is, and as good a chef as Pellegrini is, they are even better conversationalists, and sitting down with them was one of the great experiences one could ever have in any restaurant, anywhere.
It is those conversations we will miss as much as the brilliant food and wine.
It is that passion and personality we will miss the most…
…and it is what these gentlemen brought to the table, far beyond what they actually served you, that Las Vegas will be poorer without.
In the Venetian Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109