No. 47: Valentino

Santa Monica

The Santa Monica institution, a revelation when it opened in 1972, is a refuge for old-school restaurant ways. Owner Piero Selvaggio could well be at the door while Nico Chessa is in the kitchen, gracefully pursuing unimpeachable regional Italian cooking. Oil-packed tuna cushions thin pink slices of veal loin in a superb rendition of vitello tonnato. Plucked from the water bath, the cardoon flan is as airy as it is hearty. The din may have subsided with age, but here you’re presented with a minuscule fork meant for savoring the marrow in each osso buco bone. Valentino reminds us of the importance of details. It matters that the waiter knows to bring the espresso two seconds after the dessert, not five minutes before.  

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