Piero Selvaggio opened Valentino back in 1972, creating a restaurant that was grand and stylish but never aloof. In the process, he introduced something almost as legendary as the restaurant itself—the famous 106-page carta dei vini—as thick as a phone book but far more interesting. Over the years, Valentino became Santa Monica’s fancy dining room and LA’s veritable wine museum, with bottles, glasses and awards framed in mirror-backed windows. Then, three years ago, Selvaggio went all casual, adding the tiny Vin Bar, just next door, the perfect spot to grab a crudo sampler or a signature pappardelle al cioccolato. In vino veritas, and the truth is, a great glass of wine tastes pretty good in either place.

sweet seats

The two alcove tables at the end of the main room are semiprivate and always in demand, as are the two booths across from them. At Vin Bar, the two-top along the south wall gives you views of the bar, the crowd and, if you’re so inclined, the flat-screen TV.

chew on this

Owner Piero Selvaggio arrived in Brooklyn from Sicily at 18 and soon moved to LA to live with his uncle, a manager at Chasen’s, who gave him a job as a busboy. Eight years later (in 1972,
after becoming a manager at Chasen’s himself and earning a bachelor’s degree in Romance languages), he opened Valentino.


Valentino and Vin Bar:
lunch: Fri. 11:30 PM–2:30 PM
dinner: *Mon.–Thurs. 5 PM–10 PM (Fri.–Sat. to 10:30 PM)
closed Sun.
*open Mon. only during BBE promotion

price range

$28 (free range chicken) to $44 (ossobuco)

Vin Bar:
$14 (pecorino and tripe ravioli) to $18 (catch of the day)
$35 for three-course prix fixe