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  • White Truffles at Valentino, The Venetian

A note of apology:  I was ill during the season and was unable to publish this in a timely fashion. 

veal tartine

Hear ye, hear ye! That most rare of gourmet comestibles, tuber magnatum, (aka the white truffle), is upon us yet again this Xmas season. There are at least nine places in town at which to partake, among them Savoy, Robuchon and even Due Forni, but none better than at Valentino, where Chef Luciano Pellegrini gives them royal raiment.

This has become a yearly event at the Venetian by now. You may recall that I wrote an article about his dinner last year, but truffles, like wine, vary from year to year. This year, the tubers weren’t as pungent as last, but still a mind blowing fall treat. And Looch, who never seems to run out of creations, matched them masterfully again this year.

cheese with chestnut honey and nut bread

The truffle season begins in late October, when hunters and their dogs dig up their pale white jewels, selling them for prices we mortals can only dream about. This year, Looch kept the dinner small, unless you count the presence of Robin Leach, and his stentorian voice.

homemade quail sausage

First, appetizers were passed at the bar, while we waited for Robin the First. Among them were crispy cones containing Wagyu beef tartare, and tiny cheese tarts topped with, surprise, shavings of white truffle. These were washed down by flutes of Prosecco, that non-pareil Italian sparkling wine that is champagne, by another appellation. (Which just happened to be, in this case, Maurizio Zanella’s fine Ca del Bosco Franciacorta.)

open ravioli with sweetbreads

Once seated, a grateful group ate its way through six more courses, each one topped with more shavings, ministered to personally by Pellegrini. Among the courses we ate, a few stood out. An open ravioli with sweetbreads springs to mind, accompanied by 2007 Barbaresco from Ca’ Rome. But the homemade quail sausage on cabbage flan wowed everyone, as well, and so did the wine pairing, the ’09 Barbera from Hilberg Pasquero.

ostrich and polenta

After a struzzo, that’s ostrich to you, Vito, with porcini mushrooms, we enjoyed a troika of desserts, um, make that a trio, and some fizzy red dessert wine I’ve already forgotten by choice. Well, it was almost a perfect evening, even if the truffles weren’t at peak this calendar year. Thanks Again, Chef.

Piero Selvaggio Valentino. Inside the Venetian. 414-3000.


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