Dining in Vegas: Zeffirino and Valentino

May 18, 2006

Last week I was in Vegas for a conference.  One of the perks of going down there is that you get the chance to hit some good restaurants.  This time around I visited couple of staple restaurants in the Venetian:  Zeffirino and Valentino.  Both Italian!!!

Let's start from Zeffirino.  I was lucky enough that I lunch and dinner there!   They have a 22USD lunch special.  You get an appetizer, main dish, dessert and coffee.  The portions are good and the quality is good as well.  Believe me that's a good deal, when you go for dinner you can barely get an appetizer for the same price! 

Dinner was more interesting.  The menu is a decent size and the wine menu is fairly large.  Let the servers reccomend wine, it makes the all thing smoother.  They were good at accomodating our price range.

This is what we had:

  • Appetizers
    • Carpaccio d'Orata con misticanza all'extra vergine agrumato
    • Filetto con patate tartufate all'emulsione di tartufo nero
  • Pasta
    • Fettuccine al granchio, astice e gamberi
  • Dessert
    • None…we skipped it, but we got a Lemoncello and a coffee
  • Wine
    • This sounds bad…but I forgot the actual brand.  It was a dry white wine.  Good "value".

The appetizers were a little of a disappointment.  I have to admit, we got fooled by the fancy names (they are fancy also in Italian).  You would expect that being Italian I would catch it right away, but not…I was a little naive.  Think about it "misticanza all'extra vergine agrumato" simply means "olive oil with lemon".  Duh!!! What I was thinking? 

They were literally couple of bites each.  OK, I am cheap…but if I pay 20USD for an appetizer I do want a little more than that!

The pasta was much better.  The pasta they use at the restaurant is homemade.  The sauce (crab meat, lobster and big shrimp in a light tomato sauce) was well balanced.  The quantity was generous. But, hey…at 40USD that's the minimum I would expect. 

We ended up paying about 100USD (and the 2 appetizers were split among the three of us).  This is my quick take on Zeffirino:

  • Go there for lunch.  Great deal.
  • Dinner is overpriced…for a pasta to be 40USD must be EXCEPTIONAL.
  • If you go for dinner skip the appetizers!
  • If your company is paying for it…enjoy the meal! đŸ™‚

Couple of days after the Zeffirino dining experience we had a customer dinner at Valentino.   According to the site and the many reviews this restaurant is supposed to be outstanding.  I found it not be such.  The atmosphere is not too good…the decor does not have any character, very blend and simple (not a "good" simple).  Even worse the food was very generic and without character (it actually matched the place well).   This is what we had:

  • Insalata amara
  • Garganelli with a dried tomato and light cream sauce
  • Branzino with light orange cream

True.  We did not have a full selection and menu was constrained (there were about 30 folks in our group), but that does not justify the actual quality.  Very blend and NOT very Italian…

My quick vote…skip it!  I didn't like it and I did not have to pay for it!

This weekend I am heading to Napa Valley for a long weekend.  Report to come next week! 

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