Tucked away in the back streets of Bukit Timah is Ristorante Da Valentino, which my friend C who took us there described as “charming”. And boy was she right. Small, clearly family run and loved, you are warmly welcomed to your table amongst a nice buzzy ambiance. The waiter tells you the specials of the day – that night, a lot of produce flown in from various parts of Italy, all of which sounded so good we ended up ordering five antipasto entrees between the three of us.
Never, even when we were in Italy, have we tasted produce like this. The food was simply prepared, and when the produce tastes this good, you don’t need to dress it up. First came anchovies – lightly floured and fried, on a bed of salad, simply dressed with a squeeze of lemon. I love love love small fish anyway, and anchovies are one of my favourites, so this was easily going to be a winner. The next two were tomatoes from Southern Italy – they were small like cherry tomatoes, and dressed in olive oil and a few shavings of basil – and the flavour in them was almost ridiculous. THIS is what tomatoes are meant to taste like – intensely sweet and savoury at the same time. These perfectly accompanied fresh buffalo mozarella. And again, neither D nor I have had the pleasure of sampling buffalo mozarella like this. It was almost like it had just been molded – a big white, voluminous cloud of cheese dressed with olive oil, which the waiter cut at our table, and you could see the milky goodness ooze out of it from each cut. OH MY GOD. Heaven. We also had the tormino cheese wrapped in proscuitto and pan-fried – the cheese was a little too “tangy” for my liking – I kept thinking of goat’s cheese, which I really do not like. Oh, and how could I forget the ham ? Homemade on premises, served thinly shaved with a warm prosecco sauce. Delish.
Freshly baked ciabatta was served along with all of this, crisp and sliced thinly, so you could dig out the anchovy pesto from the small ramekin that they gave each person.
We were so full after the antipasta that we ended up just ordering pasta for our mains. I had the linguine aglio olio with tartufo which, even as a garlic lover, was a little overgarlicky for me – there was about one bulb of pan-fried garlic pieces throughout the linguine and hardly any tartufo. C and D had the porcini ravioli with tartufo and perfumed with truffle oil. I think that was the winner, but D was so enamoured by it he only remembered to offer me some after he’s eaten most of it and I was soooo full by then.
We couldn’t even think of dessert, but Valentinos also has the most astounding array of amarones that I’ve seen, ranging from $100 – $2000. C had taken us there especially for amarone, but the waiter recommended a Valpolicella from Dal Forno, Romano. D absolutely loved it.
In fact, D loved the whole meal so much, it’s on his birthday dinner list (the unlaminated version).
We’ll definitely be going back if for nothing else for the mozarella and tomatoes – which you should ring ahead for because it’s not guaranteed that they will have any that day…
Ristorante Da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka
Restaurant: 6462 0555
Fax: 6462 2247