Valentino

3115 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405(310) 829-4313valentinosantamonica.com

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When you compare to the likes of Capo, Via Veneto or Piccolo its definitely on the stuffier side. And the decor is bit on the dated side, as are many of its patrons, but I have to hand it to Valentino when it comes to the food. Quite impressive. Easily lives up to the hype in culinary arena.

The prosciutto with melon was among the best I’ve ever had. Top notch San Daniele delivering heavenly slices of buttery pork with razor-thin pops of saltiness, paired with the most spot on, perfectly ripe melon. Landing stuck like Mary Lou Retton with pine tar on her feet.

The other dish I will never forget was the risotto with white truffle shavings.  Now I know you could practically put white truffles on balsa wood and it would taste amazing, but I’ve had truffles before and since, and for some reason no other experience has matched this one.

But as good as the food was, sadly I’m not sure I would ever return, partly because some of the other dishes weren’t as special as the two I mentioned and partly due to the overall experience/setting, which wasn’t my bag. That said, if you are 60 or older- or simply feel 60 or older, this place should be perfect for you. And I don’t mean that in condescending ass-y way. I’m being sincere. The second I turn 60 I am heading back there for sure, assuming it’s still open.

3 teeth

Beaudevin

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport 5501 R C Josh Birmingham Pkwy Charlotte, NC28208(704) 359-4318

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For an airport restaurant I would say you would be hard-pressed to find better. The wine by the glass was surprisingly good (Pinot Noir). And the tapas style small plates kept wowing one after another. From the prosciutto & melon to the cheese plate to the caprese skewers, to the bread plate and olives. The only average ones were the shrimp cocktail and the humus. Not bad mind you, just not up to par with their small plate siblings.

And as for the salad mains, I did the grilled artichoke. A solid good. The creamy whipped goat made for a nice complement to the peppery arugula.

Oh, and our server was awesome. Quick, friendly and without writing anything down she didn’t forget a single order from the 6 people in our party.

4 teeth