by Zachariah Zendejas
At the end of this review is a coupon for Valentinos.
When I was asked to do a review of the Italian restaurant Valentino’s, I was excited because many family members have experienced their food both at its new location in downtown Reedley and when the restaurant resided on Manning across from Savemart. Having never had their food, after entering the small but comfortable establishment and ordering a meal of Chicken Parmigiano and an appetizer of the Italian Cracker Bread with an iced tea, I waited on baited breath for the meal. I must say that I was not disappointed with the meal. Although the entrée was a little different than what I had expected, it was nonetheless delicious, and a peach tart was mouthwateringly good.
The restaurant itself is comfortably small and intimate enough to have conversations with friends, family or dates. I invited family to experience the food and atmosphere and had a wonderful time. After deciding on appetizers and entrees, we were easily pulled into conversation because of the relaxed environment. When the appetizer arrived (Italian Cracker Bread), we divided the marinara sauce and bread, ready to taste. The bread had a delicious chew and was warm and fresh. Tearing into the individual pieces and dipping them into the sauce was enjoyable with a reward of the savory flavor of Italian seasonings and olive oil to complement the marinara.
After enjoying the appetizers, we were more than ready for our main courses. My aunt and mother dined on “The Works” pizza, which was cheesy perfection. Not overdone with cheese, the pizza contained pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers, on top of a tasty tomato sauce and savory pizza bread. The dish was excellent. I had yet to taste my dish but I had high hopes. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The chicken breast was tender and juicy, covered in cheese on a bed of penne pasta mixed with their tomato sauce. However, as I mentioned earlier, the dish was quite different from other Chicken Parmigiano dishes I have tasted. Unlike those others that were mild and savory, this dish was spicy and quite piquant. At first, the flavor threw me off because of my original expectations, but after the second bite, I was hooked. The spicy sauce mixed with the pasta, supported the mild yet flavorful chicken that was the center of the dish.
As we finished our dinner, a beautifully constructed peach tart, with no sugar added we were told, was brought to our table. After such a filling meal, we were hesitant at first to try the dessert, but after some consideration, we dug into the tart. This was creamy goodness at its best as the tart was not overly sweet but truly savory. The cream that filled the tart shell and was covered in peach slices brought together the tartness of the peaches and the savory shell creating a dish the ended the entire experience perfectly.
I liken the experience to a symphony of sorts: first we have the appetizer, the beginning that draws in its audience with a promise of something even more exquisite; second, there is the entrée that is the climax of the song, the part where the audience is immersed in the pungent and enchanting flavors of the music; and finally the end, this is where the audience is led comfortably out of the song and left feeling fulfilled. The only experience that was less than savory was the check, but it is to be expected after such a wonderful meal.
Check out their website for their menus, catering options and general information about the restaurant and its owners. Check out KRL’s Chef’s Kitchen articles to find out some of Valentinos Chef’s recipes and the stories behind them.