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Executive Chef/Partner Luciano Pellegrini

    Grilled Pizza

Dining with Chefs: Executive Chef/Partner Luciano Pellegrini

After an afternoon like that, any chef deserves a break. We wondered, therefore, where Chef Pellegrini dines when he has time off for a meal. "I have to admit that two places come to mind, and they are both French," he said. "There's Andre’s in town and Alize. Andre’s is No. 1. The other one that we go to even more often is Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris, right in front of Bellagio. We actually discovered a new restaurant near where we live called Via Brasil. It's a Brazilian steakhouse where they come out with the skewers. It's great. We were there once and had one of the best dinners; we truly enjoyed the quality of the food and everything. It was unbelievable."

Because even chefs have to take a break from food, we next asked Chef Pellegrini what he does in his free time. "I play golf as a hobby, and the only difference since I moved here is that I play less of it -- even though there are four courses out here," he said. "I did go at the beginning, in the first five or six years, but the last four have been kind of downhill. I read books like mystery books, then work or family. I have two girls, a 10-year-old and a 17-month-old, that keep me fully occupied when I'm not here."

Prosciutto San Daniele

Speaking of occupied, we were so focused on the restaurant and its 10th anniversary that we nearly forgot to discuss Chef Pellegrini's culinary creations with him. We reminisced first about some of our past and present meals at Valentino, as we've tasted their pizza, pastas, salads, charcuterie and multiple desserts. "Our pizza is cooked entirely on the grill from the get-go," Chef Pellegrini told us. "We make sure it's nice and crispy on top. Then we flip it and then add the tomato sauce, cheese and chopped herbs. By the time the other side is cooked, the cheese melts. We don’t stretch it out on the grill; we stretch it out in olive oil, which gives the crispiness to the dough and it's nice and crunchy.

"We buy the prosciutto direct from San Daniele, although now we get it from a distributor (I used to buy it direct when times were good; now, of course, we can't keep around $10,000 worth of prosciutto inventory!). I've found that San Daniele is one of the sweetest and most flavorful prosciuttos out there, consistently so. The Parma is also good, but I'm partial to San Daniele.

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