When you talk about Italian food in the West, there's just the same two names that invariably pop up: Valentino and Pietrasanta. While the majority of online reviews proclaim Valentino as the better of the two, I would demur. Pietrasanta, despite its more "ulu" (read: far-flung) locale, is spades better, both in terms of consistency and finesse. Also, Pietrasanta's price points are, in actual fact, more reasonable than Valentino's.
And that distinction was no more evident, or stark, than during my recent lunch at Valentino to celebrate a colleague's birthday. In comparison to my previous visit to Valentino 4 years ago, the neighbourhood ristorante has declined a fair bit.
Lunch started off well with the Burrata e Datterini ($55.90), a mound of fresh cow's milk cheese, its mellow creaminess highlighted by the intoxicating notes of black truffle beads, and served with Italian tomatoes and mesclun leaves.
We supplemented the cheese with a little salty meat, pink ribbons of Cotto Ham ($35.90), sgabei pastry and olives.
A massive flop, the Zuppa al Frutti di Mare ($22) of tomato seafood soup was awfully fishy, and reeked of a powdery aftertaste. This was something that should have been a sure thing, but it was let down by the less than fresh seafood. Suffice it to say, this was left finished.
Ditto for the Risotto al Frutti di Mare ($27.90) which was barely salvaged by the sharp piquancy of the tomato base.
The Fettuccine con Salsiccia Piccante ($28.90) of homemade spicy minced pork sausage fared better, hearty and aromatic with lashings of fresh rosemary blended into the ragu.
The Penne con Ragu del Giorno ($38.90), robust with a full-bodied meatiness, was rustic and homestyled.
The Linguine Aglio Olio al Frutti di Mare ($28.90) was heady with olive oil, garlic and chilli. Though studded generously with seafood, only the prawns passed muster with a fresh sweet flavour.
The Ciabatta ($6.90 for second serving) was excellent, fluffy and fragrant and absolutely delicious.
Ristorante da Valentino
200 Turf Club Road
Tel: 6462 0555
Open Tuesdays to Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; and 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
weekends from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Closed on Mondays