Friday, December 7, 2012

Carmela’s Food Blog: Valentino’s in Park Ridge, NJ


A little background of my history with food. I have been in the food business nearly my whole life. Since I was 4 yrs old my father owned a restaurant. Before that my grandfather owned a restaurant in the Bronx, New York during the 40's. When my father passed in the 80's, I took on a regular 9-5 job. It wasn’t until 2000 that my brother decided to re-enter the restaurant business. He ran a very successful restaurant for 11 years. He took the family old Italian traditions and blended it with the new trendy food flavors of today. The restaurant business is second nature to me.  The variety of food today, with blended cultural influences, have become more popular. They call this “fusion,” where a chef creates dishes from a combination of regions. The new food dishes are proved to be very creative and sometimes, if you are lucky enough to seek out a great chef, you can experience this new cuisine.

At  first I thought that I would never write a negative food review. If I was unhappy at a restaurant I would  never return. Then the more I thought about it the more I realized that the establishment may benefit from a poor review if they took my opinion or criticism to improve on what was inadequate during my dining. I know when we owned our restaurant I would run into customer in town and sometimes they would tell me about an experience. I always thanked them for letting me know and discussed it with my brother and resolved the issue. So I will write from my own opinion.  I'm simply a person who grew up with food, loves food, thinks about food and now will write about it. I will give the establishment a combined star rating based on service, food, plating and price. I hope you enjoy my blogs. My first blog, which follows, is a review of Valentino's restaurant.

The Dining Room

103 Spring Valley Road
Park Ridge, NJ 07656

Valentino’s is located in Park Ridge, New Jersey and was one of my favorite restaurants back in the 90's. Unfortunately, I think they have stopped the clock and are stuck right there. The decor is old style Italian. I felt it needed a little TLC to make it more mod-Mediterranean. We visited on a Tuesday night. There was only one other table in the restaurant seated which was way too far away. We were greeted by an elderly waiter. Now, please I do NOT have anything against the elderly working, but his age got in the way of his waiting. He seated us without menus to start. We ordered two glasses of house Cabernet  He was not sure of the brand when asked, but he advised it was very good. The wine was served to us dripping with water, obviously from just rinsed glasses. Not sure why he didn’t dry them off. This was surprising. Also, the glass was a very small and outdated. I think my father use to have them back in the 70's when people drank Mateus, you know, the wine with the basket on the bottom part of the bottle that I dripped candles all over and gave as Christmas gifts. Oh, those were the days. Okay, so back to the meal. We ordered the buffalo mozzarella as an appetizer. When it was served we had to ask for bread. Nothing to brag about in this basket, just some small dinner rolls. The buffalo mozzarella was creamy and served chilled. This was priced at $12.00. I enjoyed this and can clearly tell it was homemade. For the main course I ordered the Gamberi alla Ribelli. It was 5 jumbo shrimp served over spinach with melted mozzarella cheese. The sauce was very light and had shallots and champagne. The shrimp were cooked well and the spinach was fresh. The plate was decorated with some cherry tomatoes. This was priced at $26.00. My guest ordered the Linguini Con Vongole.  The linguini was al dente and the clams were served in their shell, which I prefer and they were plentiful. This dish was $21.00. Unfortunately, it took us a while to locate the waiter to ask for some grated cheese. Finally, he brought it and we forgot to ask for another glass of wine so we had to do without. We did not stay for coffee or dessert as we had somewhere to go, and the slowness of the service made our stay a lot longer than anticipated. When we got the check, the small glass of wine was priced at $12.00. Wow! Certainly overpriced. If you want to charge that for a glass of house wine I suggest they invest in some very nice stemmed wine glasses. No, it wont change the taste or the price of the wine, but sometimes presentation does matter. All in all, we had no interaction with the waiter, have no idea of his name and I don’t think he will ever remember waiting on us. That's too bad because when I was a server customers booked their reservations requesting me. I liked to interact and make a customer’s evening one they would enjoy and remember. The food was good, but overall considering the service, plating and price I give Valentino's a 6 star rating out of 10 stars. I pushed an extra star in there for the old time memories I have had there.

I am sorry about not having photos of these dishes, I didn’t know if Mob Mistress would think a food blog appropriate to share, so I thought the visit would only stay in my memory. Please add your comments below, I’d love to know what you think!

Written By: Carmela Corleone

Picture Credit: Valentino's


John Lusuriello said...

Nice review Carmela..Valentino's was on of my favorite "first date" restaraunts back in the day.. Would love to do a review with you someday as we both enjoy the art of the food business immensely!!

Anonymous said...

Carmela I wish I read this review before I went to eat there last night. I used to love this place! Now it needs a total makeover inside and is way overpriced. They did not have an appetizer we wated to order. Wine glasses are tiny and wine is overpriced! The veal was good but too expensive. The waiters are old and livJing in the past. We were the only table for a Friday night. I think the guy who does the show restaurant make over would love to see this place. In the kitchen there were four Mexican people working. No head chef in sight ! Not worth the price for the poor ambiance and terrible a pasta appetizers very dry.