Ristorante Da Valentino

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ristorante-da-valentinoIf you are seriously looking for an Italian restaurant with great service in Singapore, Ristorante Da Valentino stood out to be probably the top on the list. It was started by Chef Valentino and his family in July 2005 with humble roots in a shop house along Rifle Range road. Subsequently it was moved to the Grandstand in Turf City. The toughest part about Valentino is that it is always fully booked and you have to book at least two weeks in advance. I have been to Valentino twice: the first time with my wife (when she was still my fiancee) for our first anniversary of the proposal date in the Rifle Range and the second time three years later with her again two days before Valentine’s Day. In both occasions, the restaurant did not disappoint but impress me with both food and service quality in the highest degree.

By the way, a lot of us have heard of this restaurant by word of mouth. In fact, that was how I have known about the restaurant. In fact, it started about the same time when I came back to Singapore after living 7 years in the UK. As the years have gone by, the reputation of the restaurant has growth tremendously, and my first experience was in their original restaurant at Rifle Range road which is more homely and warm, as compared to the second time in the new restaurant now in the Grandstand, Turf City. By the way, they are not opened on Mondays. What impressed me was the consistency of service standards and food across both experiences.

Let’s start from the very beginning, I called the number to the restaurant at least a month in advance to reserve a table for two on both occasions. I was always greeted by someone who spoke with an Italian accent and the person took extra effort to ensure that the details of my booking were taken down properly. If you have booked this early, there would be a worry that the restaurant might forget that you have a booking there. Of course, none of this had happened for me. On the day itself, they actually called me to confirm that I am coming to the restaurant. In both occasions, they made our experience pleasant and delightful by giving me a seating arrangement that is ideal for a couple’s dinner date. For the second time, they have seated us in a cove seat where both of us can chat and enjoy our dinner in private despite a function was going on that day. Every time when I was there, I often saw the owners greeting their regular customers and commented to my wife that our dining experience might be more interesting if we are regulars.

Our choice for cuisines in Valentino were relatively simple, unlike my past two fine dining dates where I have decided on gourmet menus and both of us has picked the main courses that were not in the menu but on the recommendation of the waiter, Rizam (if I have spelt his name correctly):

  • A simple appetizer shared between my wife and myself: a smoky grilled octopus tentacles with lemon and salad. The waiter Rizam actually cut the octopus into small pieces for us after we took the photo. He actually told us to take the photo first before cutting it for us.
  • My choice of the main course (not on the menu): pan fried beef medium rare with rocket salad & potatoes. It was also served with rocket salad on the sides. Unlike most steaks I have tried for fine dining in Singapore, the taste was light and easy to bite.
  • My wife’s choice of the main course (not on the menu): A simple sea bass served with salad. The waiter Rizam allowed us to take a picture first and then debone the entire sea bass fish for serving to my wife. She finished the whole fish and was absolutely impressed by the way how it was cooked in the process.
  • Our combined dessert choice where both of us shared: (a) a simple Tiramisu and (b) a molten lava cake with vanilla gelato.

As you can see from our choices, the menu is pretty conventional. My wife and I each took a glass of house red wine Montepciano D’Abruzzo 2008, made from the Montepulciano wine grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy.

So, what makes this different from the rest of the places we have been? The difference was the high service standard of the waiter, Rizam and it’s probably something really rare in Singapore. He was totally knowledgable about the menu, the year of the wine, answered every question we have for him and recommended the better dishes when I did not make a good choice. The way how he served us was professional and simply polite. It was probably one of those places when I asked for the waiter, they would be there right in an instant. He was always there at the right time and place and served our needs perfectly. It was interesting because both my wife and I were talking about another waiter the last time when we were at Valentino @ Rifle Range, where the waiter was always dedicated to our needs.

I would love to get a chance to chat with Chef Valentino and his family as I can see why they are successful with a team of dedicated staff who truly looks after the customers whether they are regulars or not. What I thought was surprising, was that I did not remember the food as much as I remember the service. In that regard, I think that they have successfully built a fine dining experience which both my wife and I will come back for more.

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Here’s my rating for this second experience with Ristorante Da Valentino:

  • Service Standards: 9.5/10
  • Ambience: 9.5/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Knowledge of Waiters: 9.5/10
  • Overall: 9.5/10

Information about this restaurant:

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist