Italian meals fit for the Rat Pack
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. ;Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Major credit cards accepted
Accessible to the handicapped
Valentino’s is the kind of place that the Rat Pack might have enjoyed had the members brought their families when they went out to eat. Think traditional Italian entrees served to diners in huge vinyl booths and banquettes with lots of extras to make the rest of the family happy.
The maitre d’ — with his tailored suit and a crisply folded pocket square — is a throwback to the days when eating out with your family was a really big deal. But the menu has just enough traditional and modern dishes to make it a contemporary dining venue.
Its wide-ranging selections include lasagna, veal parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, and other Italian staples as well as seafood, sandwiches, steaks, and pizza.
If Dino has a yen for lasagna ($13) he’s in luck, and if junior wants a hot dog ($5), chicken fingers ($6), or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ($4), he’s in the right place, too.
True to the local population, Valentino’s has some Franco-American fare as well. Those of a certain age will find some menu items familiar from the Modern Restaurant in Nashua, such as chicken pot pie ($12). The Modern was a family favorite in the Gate City for generations that closed several years ago. Some of the former workers at the downtown icon brought the recipes to Valentino’s.
The décor is warm and airy, with a faux fireplace in the foyer and windows that stretch practically from the floor to ceiling in two dining rooms that are separated by a lounge, which has several high-def TVs that draw an exuberant crowd during
The luncheon sandwich menu is impressive, with more than two-dozen selections, including meatball parmesan ($9); chicken Abruzzi ($9) with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil; a lobster roll ($12); and a grilled vegetable wrap ($8) with asparagus, zucchini, red peppers, onions, eggplant, and portabella mushrooms,
All day Monday through Friday, there are several all-you-can-eat pasta dishes for $10 with a choice of spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini, or even whole wheat pasta with a choice of Bolognese, Alfredo, or house sauce.
The pizza is excellent, Neapolitan beauties with crisp crusts and tangy topping priced $11 and $12 with a wide selection of topping available for an additional $1.50.
On a recent visit, we selected the lunch portions of veal parmesan ($11), a postcard-sized slice of breaded and fried veal served over a bed of angel hair pasta. The pasta was delightfully al dente.
Shrimp and scallop kebobs, a skewer of gorgeously grilled thyme and lemon-zest rubbed shrimp and sweet scallops, had a magnificent thyme remoulade ($9) over baby spinach. For a starch we chose the rice, which was the best we’ve had in a long time, sautéed with fresh carrots, celery, and herbs. This was a fantastic little lunch, especially combined with our coconut mojito ($9).
There are two versions of surf and turf, an 8-ounce top sirloin served with shrimp and sea scallops or with shrimp alone. We selected the shrimp alone ($22). The char-grilled steak was tender and tasteful. The three stuffed shrimp were tasty.
The dessert cart contained homemade tiramisu ($6), New York-style cheesecake ($6), and the restaurant’s specialty: The Leaning Tower ($7), a warm brownie topped with French vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, and caramel.
We considered topping it all off with a peanut butter and jelly martini ($8) prepared with raspberry liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, with peanut butter pasted on the rim of the glass. But what would Dino have thought?