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Home > DINING WITH CHEFS > Las Vegas Dining with Chefs > Valentino (Part 2 of 3)


Executive Chef/Partner Luciano Pellegrini

    Vanilla Pineapple Layered Pannacotta

Given the recession, we wondered if Chef Pellegrini has seen any problems with his purveyors, prices or ingredients. "The ingredients are not a problem to get," he told us. "The fact is, some premium ingredients have decreased in price a little bit and some have not. Our problem has been more from an inventory management standpoint. The clientele that was willing to pay for certain premium ingredients has dwindled down to almost nothing. So we try not to purchase certain things that eventually we won’t get to sell; because to have a successful restaurant, you have to keep your product nice and fresh. We adapted to the economic situation and to people’s financial situation by changing the menu and lowering the prices of the tasting menu so that we could sell it more, maintaining the same quality but maybe cutting the courses from eight to seven. We didn’t cut the quality; we still buy certain premium items, but with much less volume. Of course, we got on the wagyu beef and kobe beef bandwagon because it sells. If I get to sell steak for $100, why wouldn’t I? But instead of buying five filets, now I buy one; thank goodness it has a nice long shelf life. I manage to finish it so that I have minimum waste. I still provide what you wouldn’t find in a regular Italian restaurant. We still sell an order of caviar here and there; instead of carrying a pound, however, we carry four ounces at a time. Last night someone dropped $170 an ounce for caviar. We didn’t drop those prices or change the quality. We still got the same. It's a matter of managing our inventory in a better way. We put all the offerings on the menu that are more conducive to reality. Our entrees went from the $40 to $50 range to the $30 to $40 range. Obviously you won't get prime beef, but you’ll get a nice dish of braised short ribs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We still get the top of the line, but I don’t pay $18 per pound; I pay $12 per pound. We manage the menu a different way. We haven't decreased our portions and we haven't decreased the quality; we just offer different things."

Classic Tiramisu

It's clear that Chef Pellegrini has some favorite premium ingredients; we wondered, though, what his favorite part of the restaurant is. "I’m proud of the way we can accommodate almost anything," he said. "To a degree, I kind of wish that people would know that better. We have something to offer for everybody’s taste and everybody’s wallet."

Which leads us to the big anniversary: It's clear that Valentino has a lot to celebrate, so we wondered how the restaurant marked its 10th year? "Number one, we’ve been here 10 years and we never really had a big opening party," Chef Pellegrini said. "We never celebrated our fifth anniversary, so we said, 'Well, what can we do to say we’ve been here 10 years, come celebrate?' Larry Ruvo is a good friend and Keep the Memory Alive is one of the charities we support locally. We wanted to get the message out there and the message is: 'We’re doing some good this summer. It's our 10th anniversary, so come on down. Every time you order something special you get to support a worthy cause and feel a part of the celebration. We have 10 years under our belt and look forward to another 10. Come to Valentino, where fine dining can be Italian.'"

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