Oscar Wilde said anyone who calls a spade a spade should be forced to use one. Now I'm not good at digging things up, but I can uncover a rip-off as well as the next guy; so if you're looking to be taken by a restaurant look no father than Valentino's, at the Venetian, for the most obscene prices in town. Those of you in the know recognize Valentino's as the superstar restaurant of the stars in Santa Monica, California. For years it's been considered one of, if not the best, Italian restaurant in America. Ever the iconoclast, I have always disagreed with that assessment--not only because there are at least a dozen New York restaurants that serve better food, but also because Valentino's reputation seemed more a result of it's movieland publicity machine than of reality. Anyway, like every other big hitter on the nation's restaurant stage, Valentino's has now staked its claim in Las Vegas, and I'm here to tell you that what we've gotten is a gigantic disappointment, and a colossaly expensive one at that, delivering possible the worst bang for the buck this side of Andre's. I'm talking about things like gummy risotto, raw slices of duck in a tasteless wine sauce and a steak with gorgonzola that is a notch below any cut found in any of our major steak houses. Italian food is never big on desserts, but here they really seem to be an afterthought. Non eof this matters so much at half the price, but expect to pay at least a hundred dollars a head, and don't even think about wine. To repeat an earlier phrase, the list here is obscenely priced, with barely a bottle under a hundred dollars. All Piero Selvaggio, the owner, is doing here is ripping off conventioneers and high rollers who probably deserve it, but the rest of us don't, and I for one wish he would take his act back to la la land, where Tom and Nicolle wouldn't know a good ravioli if it bit 'em on the cute keisters with the eyes wide shut.
Valentino's is located inside the Venetian Hotel & Casino.
This is John Curtas.