Singapore's Finest, Ristorante da Valentino Now Opens in Jakarta

January 20, 2015 Ellyna Tjohnardi
The wait is finally over! For those of you who know that this is one of the best Italian restaurants in Singapore, you'll definitely be ecstatic to hear that Ristorante da Valentino is finally open in Jakarta. No, I'm not kidding, this is for real. =)
Ristorante da Valentino's signature best-selling dish Fettuccine as Granchio - signature squid ink fettuccine with crab meat in creamy pink tomato sauce
Ristorante da Valentino's signature best-selling dish
Did you see the above photo? Yup, that is indeed the signature of Ristorante da Valentino's: Fettuccine al Granchio, or fresh squid ink fettuccine, doused in generous creamy 'pink' sauce made with crab meat chunks and a combination of herbs and spices. This is one of the all-time best-selling dish that Valentino is famous for. Now, foodies and gourmands in Jakarta could relish it, without having to fly 1,5 hours distance!

Ristorante da Valentino, according to Lady Iron Chef:
Ristorante Da Valentino at The Grandstand is our favourite Italian restaurant in Singapore. Despite the tough competition in the local food scene, Valentino has remained as one of the top tables. The food is always consistently good, and you can always look forward to have a great meal here.
Although I had never been to the one in Singapore, that description alone, pretty much made me excited to try it out as soon as possible! So, I'm sure many of you would be wondering how different is Valentino Jakarta going to be compared to the one in Singapore? Chef Valentino told me that menu wise, they're pretty much the same, as he believes that his customers come to his place because they want to experience the original Valentino's rustic Italian food. Even the venue in Jakarta bears some distinctive Valentino resemblance to the house at Turf City, Singapore.

The main difference is probably the price and the absence of al fresco area, as well as a pastry boutique in Jakarta. Al fresco is undebatable, due to the location, but the pastry boutique, is still an open-ended question that is still possible to be realised in the future. With regards to the price, I think Singapore's is more affordable than Jakarta, despite the exchange rate. Take for example, the Fettuccine al Granchio, which costs SGD 29.90 versus IDR 350,000. I inquired about the price discrepancy and they conceded that it costs more to import the exact same ingredients to Jakarta. Oh well, such is the price one must pay in order to make sure they deliver the same quality...

As a foodie, I'm deeply curious about what makes the numerous wealthy Indonesian customers frequent to Valentino in Singapore, including our former and the first female president of Indonesia, Megawati Soekarno Putri. Not just the former President, among Chef Valentino's loyal customer is the owner of Indonesia's sinetron (television soap opera) empire, as well as the smashing hit Akira Back Jakarta, Manoj Punjabi, who was persistent in his attempt to cajole Chef Valentino to open a place in Jakarta.
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Welcome to Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
However Chef was not one to be easily convinced merely by the promise of profit and material wealth. Chef conceded that, "I didn't have any feeling about the partnership proposal because there was no chemistry at first. But Manoj was persistent and he kept to his promises, not just throwing flowery words. "So he flew me and my wife in town and showed me the place. It was still an empty space, a spartan concrete back then and then we were sold. That's how our chapter in Jakarta began", confessed Chef Valentino Valtulina.

Today, after long and arduous journey of teams in Singapore and Jakarta, Ristorante da Valentino, is ready to serve old clienteles and to woo new patrons. During the first opening period, Chef Valentino and his cousin, Marco, who has been trusted to helm the kitchen in Jakarta as the Executive Chef, as well as a few selected chefs that he asked to come along from Singapore, will be seen at the restaurant, either greeting "Buonosera!" the VIP guests, or scurrying between the floor and the kitchen, making sure the dishes arrive perfectly at the table.
Illy Coffee for Ristorante da Valentino
Illy Coffee for Ristorante da Valentino | Cappuccino IDR 55,000
The venue is on the 11th floor of MD Place building, not the top most floor, however, still promises a breathtaking view of the busy downtown Jakarta, especially if you're seated at the tables by the floor-to-ceiling windows. The red velvety chairs, against the white neatly pressed table linens, with a touch of fresh roses on the tables exudes the romantic and luxurious feel of the place. However, the purposely raw brick walls and garden fence along the windows, make it feels like you're inside an indoor garden. At first glance, it is easy to feel intimidated by the interior of the place and the price on the menu. But, keep reading on, as I shall elaborate more that there is a lot more than meets the eye about Ristorante da Valentino.

Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Chef Valentino's selection of the finest olives
Chef Valentino envisions a ristorante, where the guests sit together at the table and share the hearty food that he and his team has prepared meticulously using only the premium ingredients and utensils, to recreate his own and his family recipes. If you see a silver haired signor around the restaurant, he is in fact, the Pappa Gianpiero, Chef Valentino's father. As you can see, this restaurant started by the family and it is intended to be preserved as the family's legacy as well.

I am especially impressed by the hand-painted wall murals, by a highly sought after Indonesian artist from Surabaya, L.K. Bing. His signature style of 'urban sketches' in pastel colours, depict various scenes the one can imagine being in the midst of a street in Italy.
LK Bing hand-painted mural for Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
LK Bing's hand-painted mural for Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta

The main dining area and VIP rooms:
VIP Rooms at Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
VIP Room at Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
VIP Rooms at Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
wanna swing from this chandelier?
VIP Rooms at Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
One of the best tables by the window at the main dining area
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta


Now, the most anticipated moment comes when I finally get to taste the menu, some of which were personally crafted by Chef Valentino and Chef Marco themselves!
Chef Valentino Valtulina of Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
Chef Valentino Valtulina

We started with the 'die-die must order' item, the Burrata Cheese. It was a dish comprising a large sphere of fresh burrata, cherry tomatoes and a symphony of purple and green lettuce. As I dug into the creamy molten burrata, I thought to myself "this must be the reason of my entire existence"...LOL, okay, I may be a bit exaggerating, but the imported burrata is the best I've ever had so far. It has the consistency of a cheese, but it's juicy and molten with the sweet and savoury milk oozing out at each and every bites. One serving is good to share among 2-4 persons, so sharing is recommended.
Burrata Cheese (Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta)
Burrata Cheese with cherry tomatoes and salad

Antipasti
Calamari Fritti - deep fried squid and baby prawns served with spicy home made Arrabiata sauce.
Next, for antipasti, we had what Indonesians would certainly love: fried calamari and small prawns. With or without the dips, have it your way!
Calamari Fritti - deep fried squid and baby prawns served with spicy Arrabiata sauce.
Calamari Fritti IDR 250,000
Calamari Fritti - deep fried squid and baby prawns served with spicy Arrabiata sauce.
Holding the fritti like a true gourmand: Chef Valentino dipped one of his prawns in the tartar sauce.

Pizza
Parma Rucola Porcini - one of the best-selling pizza of Parma Ham, Porcini & Rocket Salad.
Who does not love piza and how can you not love pizza? Pictured here, is the 'Halal' version of the Parma Rucola Porcini Pizza, notice there weren't any hams on the toppings? Highly considerate and thoughtful gentleman, chef Valentino decided to not add the parma to our pizza, for he fear that I do not consume pork (I thought after I dolled myself up for the dinner, I'd look more like a Japanese than ever! LOL). The vegetarian version of the best-selling pizza was lovely nonetheless, though I would've preferred with the ham =P
Parma Rucola Porcini Pizza
Parma Rucola Porcini Pizza IDR 335,000
Parma Rucola Porcini Pizza
Eat pizza like a true Italian!


Primi Piatti
Primi piatti is a pasta matter and it's important for you to know that pastas here are all made in the kitchen, fresh, daily every morning. No shortcut, no instant pre-packaged pastas will be served on your plate.

Fettuccine as Granchio - signature squid ink fettuccine with crab meat in creamy pink tomato sauce. This is also another must-order signature dish when you come to any Ristorante da Valentino. Although I'm not a massive fan of seafood, I enjoyed digging in into each and every juicy and fresh chunks of real crab meat in the sauce. Oh, I wasn't embarrassed when I asked for a take away, as I couldn't finish it then. This is too good to be wasted!
Fettuccine as Granchio - signature squid ink fettuccine with crab meat in creamy pink tomato sauce
Fettuccine as Granchio IDR 350,000

Linguini Aglio Olio con Gamberone - king prawn pasta in very healthy olive oil, garlic & chili sauce. I'm neutral for aglio olio, when I feel like it, I would order, otherwise, I'm normally the creamy pasta type of person. However, Chef Valentino challenged me with his aglio olio with fresh seafood topping. So I said, bring it on, Chef!I thought I'd have at least something to criticize, if the aglio olio didn't impress me. But it became a pipedream when I put the first strand of linguini in my mouth. I don't normally find seafood and aglio olio a desirable combo, but after tasting this one, I'll never say no. Bravo!
Linguini Aglio Olio con Gamberone - king prawn pasta in very healthy olive oil, garlic & chili sauce
Linguini Aglio Olio con Gamberone IDR 275,000
Linguini Aglio Olio con Gamberone - king prawn pasta in very healthy olive oil, garlic & chili sauce


Secondi Piatti
Pollo da Diavola - one of the best-selling roasted Spring chicken with home made spicy sauce. It is a whole chicken, grilled to perfect tenderness, yet still retains its juiciness and the herbs that soak all the way to the smokey chicken meat. I enjoyed with very much even without the special sauce. 
Pollo da Diavola - one of the best-selling roasted Spring chicken with home made spicy sauce
Pollo da Diavola - one of the best-selling roasted Spring chicken with home made spicy sauce IDR 555,000
Pollo da Diavola - one of the best-selling roasted Spring chicken with home made spicy sauce


Dolci
Now, come dessert time. If you expect fancy or odd dessert appearing on the menu, I'm sorry that you'll be disappointed, because dessert is a seriously Italian matter here. So, the classics such as Tiramisu, Chocolate Lava Cake, Creme Brulee and Profiteroles are the staples for the sweet tooth looking for a sweet, deadly beautiful ending. (haha jokes!)

Tiramisu - comes served in a dessert glass, this is a smooth end to the hearty Italian feast. Definitely one of the best tiramisu around! Oh, this contains alcohol by the way, and the kahlua is quite discernible among the mascarpone, which indicates that they must be generous with the kahlua. 
tiramisu
Tiramisu IDR 150,000


Chocolate Lava Cake - look at that oozing goodness overflowing like a river of brown lava, from a dark chocolate crevice. Even the vanilla home made gelato is prepared for the lava's ambush, as it sat snugly in the safety of a caramel net boat!
Chocolate Lava Cake
Chocolate Lava Cake IDR 250,000


Creme Brulee, inside a mesh caramel cage. It's too pretty, I was about to crack up cuckoo already, if I didn't pop it in my mouth as soon as possible!
Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee IDR 150,000
Creme Brulee

Now, I'm sure not all of you will be convinced despite all the things I told you and show you in photos. It is true indeed that Valentino is not your everyday 'go-to' type of Italian restaurant. And judging by the price alone, I can tell that many of you would complain that it is too steep for the market in Jakarta. However, for those who can afford the likes of Il Mare or Rosso on a daily basis, Valentino is considerably more reasonably priced than the former two places I mentioned.

Valentino is not positioning itself as a chi chi fine dining restaurant, but it strives to be the best authentic Italian, serving only the finest to the patrons who knows and can appreciate the experience. To come to Valentino, is not supposed to be just filling up the tummy, but it's a place to convene, and with the sort of crowd (tycoons, businessmen, bosses, politicians, celebrities, socialites, etc), that will be frequent customers here, Valentino is going to be a place to see and to be seen. Whether the price is worth it or not, I shall leave it to each of your wise judgement. Of course, I know there will be those who will say that they could get much better tasting Italian food elsewhere for much more affordable price, and that is absolutely fair, in my opinion. But will Valentino be the best Italian restaurant in Jakarta? Only time will tell.

I only have well wishes for Chef Valentino and his team, hopefully they'll be able to keep up the excellent quality of food and service. Who knows Valentino in Jakarta might even make a name on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list in the near future? That's probably just an ambition of a foodie like me, who wants to boast that my city finally make it to the list, but it is in fact, never been a priority or a concern of Chef Valentino's. He's actually grateful that his establishment, has slipped the constant scrutiny of the award judges, but quietly wins the hearts of his patrons. Because to him, a compliment from the customer is worth more than all the 'stars' in the world. Good luck Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta, I certainly look forward to coming back again real soon!

*) Prices are subject to Government Tax & Service Charge

Ristorante da Valentino Jakarta
MD Place Building, 11th Floor (click to open in Maps)
Jl. Setiabudi Selatan No.7
South Jakarta

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