Valentino One Door East | RES­TAU­RANT

TWO DI­VINE CULI­NARY EX­PE­RI­ENCES UN­DER ONE ROOF

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - BY ALONA ABBADY MARTINEZ

It is hard not to miss Chef Gio­vanni - he’s the hand­some, charm­ing guy in chef whites work­ing a mile a minute be­hind the open kitchen at Valentino Cucina Ital­iana on Ft. Laud­erdale’s busy North Fed­eral High­way. Roc­chio isn’t just charis­matic, he is ex­tremely tal­ented as well.

“I don’t eat much,” he laughs, dis­tract­ing lis­ten­ers with his dim­pled smile as he places the fin­ish­ing touches on a breath­tak­ing foie gras with whipped cream ap­pe­tizer dish. The bar ac­com­mo­dates 16 and is the cov­eted spot for din­ers to en­joy front row seats to the magic of Valentino. For those seek­ing to sim­ply sit back, re­lax, and en­joy a stand­out Ital­ian meal there is plenty of comfy, intimate seat­ing through­out the ex­pan­sive res­tau­rant as well.

It takes a lot to keep one res­tau­rant run­ning smoothly and gar­ner­ing suc­cess, but Roc­chio, whose un­ruly curls be­tray the strict dis­ci­pline he evokes in the kitchen, de­cided to dou­ble up by open­ing an­other com­pletely dif­fer­ent eatery, One Door East, right next door to his mod­ern Ital­ian hit.

“We used to play ping pong in that empty space,” he con­fides while serv­ing a shrimp fusilli with con­trone beans. “But ping pong doesn’t pay the rent.” And there’s that smile again.

The friend­li­ness that ex­udes from Roc­chio crosses over to his cook­ing. Valentino Cucina Ital­iana opened in 2006 as an ode to his fa­ther’s Plan­ta­tion res­tau­rant young Roc­chio grew up in by the same name. The menu show­cases his thor­ough train­ing, both in revered New York es­tab­lish­ments and kitchens in Italy, where he spent time hon­ing his skills as a chef. Fea­tured dishes in­clude veal osso buco with porcini mush­rooms, bone mar­row, and to­mato, house-made tortelli with but­ter­nut squash and pump­kin seeds, and diver scal­lops with cauliflower, fre­gola sarda (a type of pasta typ­i­cal to Sar­dinia), pre­served le­mon, and nigella seed.

“I use only the fresh­est of in­gre­di­ents when cook­ing. Fresh veg­eta­bles and herbs pro­vide an au­then­tic taste that noth­ing else can de­liver,” Roc­chio says.

One Door East be­came the res­tau­rant that would re­place Roc­chio’s table ten­nis tour­na­ments, and the space where he used to bake Valentino’s bread, when it opened in Fe­bru­ary 2016. The in­dus­trial-style, global ta­pas eatery re­cently wel­comed Chef Oliver Lus­taro, for­merly of Zuma in Lon­don, to over­see the kitchen. Dishes in­clude hamachi ce­viche with royal red prawn and aji-pas­sion fruit leche ti­gre, lob­ster toast with saf­fron sabayon, and burnt ends with home­made bar­beque, pickles and aged ched­dar cheese. Lus­taro works closely with Roc­chio to create the menu and Roc­chio fre­quently pops by to chat with din­ers of One Door East as well.

At first glance one would be hard pressed to find sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two restau­rants, save that they are owned by Roc­chio, driven by pas­sion and cre­ativ­ity, and share the same front en­trance: make a left, and you’ll get a bois­ter­ous, Asian fu­sion ex­pe­ri­ence or turn right for a classy, intimate Ital­ian with a mod­ern twist. Both of­fer scrump­tious cock­tails, wines, and beers to pair with the meal. Of course, the most im­por­tant thing they share is the end re­sult: re­gard­less of which you choose, you’re sure to leave sat­is­fied in the end.

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