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August 19, 1999
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Oscar Wilde said anyone who calls a spade a spade should be forced to use one. Now I'm not good at digging things up, but I can uncover a rip-off as well as the next guy; so if you're looking to be taken by a restaurant look no father than Valentino's, at the Venetian, for the most obscene prices in town. Those of you in the know recognize Valentino's as the superstar restaurant of the stars in Santa Monica, California. For years it's been considered one of, if not the best, Italian restaurant in America. Ever the iconoclast, I have always disagreed with that assessment--not only because there are at least a dozen New York restaurants that serve better food, but also because Valentino's reputation seemed more a result of it's movieland publicity machine than of reality. Anyway, like every other big hitter on the nation's restaurant stage, Valentino's has now staked its claim in Las Vegas, and I'm here to tell you that what we've gotten is a gigantic disappointment, and a colossaly expensive one at that, delivering possible the worst bang for the buck this side of Andre's. I'm talking about things like gummy risotto, raw slices of duck in a tasteless wine sauce and a steak with gorgonzola that is a notch below any cut found in any of our major steak houses. Italian food is never big on desserts, but here they really seem to be an afterthought. Non eof this matters so much at half the price, but expect to pay at least a hundred dollars a head, and don't even think about wine. To repeat an earlier phrase, the list here is obscenely priced, with barely a bottle under a hundred dollars. All Piero Selvaggio, the owner, is doing here is ripping off conventioneers and high rollers who probably deserve it, but the rest of us don't, and I for one wish he would take his act back to la la land, where Tom and Nicolle wouldn't know a good ravioli if it bit 'em on the cute keisters with the eyes wide shut.

Valentino's is located inside the Venetian Hotel & Casino.

This is John Curtas.

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Archives

Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

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