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At Ristorante Da Valentino.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Already when we last met, the Valtulina family hinted at that they were preparing a move to a new location. It would be a great improvement they told me, since they had seriously outgrown their family living room sized premises in the Bukit Timah area. Because of this, it was with great expectation we went to take a look at the new restaurant, Valentino’s, at Turf Club Road.

Greeted in family tradition with a warm hurricane of emotions at their door, we were whisked almost immediately, into the kitchen, where Valentino stood at the heart of it all.

I had certainly missed the Valtulina Family!

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Gianpiero Valtulina, setting up the private dining quarters of the restaurant. Gianpiero, or ‘Papa’, has been a guiding hand in the process of the building of the new place. His influence and finishing touches can be seen in the beautiful decorations furnishing the home and restaurant.

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The private room here can seat about forty-five persons. Perfect for that larger family or corporate event.

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With so much movement in the place, I couldn’t help wanting to capture all details on camera, from the rustic brick enclaves in the main dining hall to the stash of deliciously piled ripened tomatoes and garlic that sat in proximity to various cheeses all carefully stored.

It took about a half hour to orientate myself in the new expansive place, from walk-in freezers to the various bakery and kitchens, the main dining hall and the Valentino Garden outdoors that already housed a healthy citrus tree, to finally sit down and come to process the information and impression of their new restaurant.

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At this new location, Valentino’s houses an even larger wine cellar than before.

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It was interesting to be introduced to the complexity of the operations that goes into the managing of a restaurant as large and ambitious as Ristorante Da Valentino, up to an including how the stations of the restaurant were organized.

Something not on the menu? No idea what to order? No problem. Just go with the Chef’s recommendation.

As I sat listening to the narratives that unfolded both in conversation and reflected throughout in the architecture and interior design of the place, two prominent themes of conversation emerged. The first, is exclusivity and rustic luxury, the second, is constant communication in relationships.

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“Dear Santa, on my wish list this Christmas is…”
Heart of the kitchen that in turn, captured my heart.

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Valentino Valtulina with a large lobster, one of many that are flown in on a daily basis
and stored alive and comfy in cold water tanks.

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From the organization of the kitchen space to that of the dining area, it is important to have your own space and thus area of activity carved out for you. It is from this aspect that comes individual exclusivity and the rustic luxury of the Valtulina Family Experience. This you sense from the terracotta coloured old bricks wall that line each cozy enclave surrounding the room to the lush washrooms that make you feel like never wanting to leave the plush red of the corner armchair.

The second, and what I thought was a more poignant point from the narrative of the Valtulina family values is, successful relationships are built upon constant negotiation and communication.

Relationships die not because of disagreements but when people decide to stop communicating with each other. Far from being disruptive or negative, disagreements that end up in heated arguments are what drive conversations forward and can be seen as a process of group dynamics, where sooner or later, solutions and compromises are found.

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It is a rare combination of efforts that you find yourself loving what you do for a living. For the Valtulina Family, it is the combination of conscientiousness, dedication and a genuine love for what they do, that makes part of their life’s working philosophies.

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Lace curtains. That which is Italy, and what I remember
from my paternal grandmother’s home from when I was a little girl. It is, home.

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From the outdoor dining area, just across from the Valentino Garden
that houses some tropical flowers and herbs.

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Perla Valtulina, catching up between meals.

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Alberto Tolari.

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There is nothing more organic or exclusive in dining experience, than to have this robust stalk of rosemary plucked from the Valentino Garden, landing straight onto this shank of tender lamb delivered to your table.

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Panna Cotta. A classic Italian dessert.
This for me, made my Christmas in Singapore.

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Louis XIII Cognac.

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No amount of explanation would however capture any of the warmth of the actual experience that the Valtulina Family has managed to encapsulate in a few hours of being with them.

What they have done is to generously share with you their life’s philosophy and Italian heritage, right in the middle of tropical Singapore.

Dining at Valentino’s, you can’t help but bring home good memories where time and time over, you feel like just wanting to come home to them for that warm meal.