Valencia Pizza and Pasta could well become my favorite restaurant in the Valencia restaurant corridor. (It's on the corner of 19th.)
My husband was served the most beautiful lamb shanks I've ever tasted. There were three(!)of them: well carmelized, completely tender and extremely lamby - without being in any way muttony. The gravy was rich, dark, loaded with carmelized onions, garlic, mushrooms and the background note was rich dijon mustard and cracked black pepper. Sophisticated - better than my home cooked version. And I think my version is really good. They were accompanied by big servings of excellent garlic mashed potatoes and fresh and perfectly prepared buttered broccoli, carrots, and zuchini. You also get a choice of soup or salad - the clam chowder had a nice clammy aroma, not gummy - good for its (canned clams) kind.
I had the fried calamari ($7.95) and a (large) side of the mashed potatoes and gravy($1.00). The squid were perfectly fresh and sweet. The batter as crispy and dry as I've ever seen before - no grease, but still a good substantial batter. I don't like it when my squid is just lightly dusted with something. I like the batter component and they got it just right. These are big babies - the rings maybe an inch and a half across, the tentacles the size of a baby's fist. But these were pristinely fresh, not frozen, and crunchy in a good way - which makes all the difference. If you don't really love squid, don't bother. But if you do love squid, you'll be amazed.
They serve them with garlic aioli and garlic tomato sauce (just lotsa lemon for me, thanx).
The bag of leftovers we took home must have weighed at least 3 pounds. The servings at Val. P & P are really big. We each have enough leftover for a second meal.
I have to give a special tip of the hat to the excellent waitress. What a great waitress. There I said it again. She was bringing extras, wrapping things beautifully, so warm and smart without ever being intrusive. The kitchen is open and the chefs are friendly and alert - everybody seems happy to be there.
It's a comfortable place to sit if you get one of the booths. As it's a corner storefront, there's a lot of light. Nothing fancy or sophisticated to be sure, except for the food - I think the food may well be sophisticated, if what we had today was any indication. They have quite a menu - American dinner house things - fish, chicken, steaks, pork chops.
Pasta with fresh clams, interesting sounding raviolis - pesto, calzones, a wide variety of complex panini combos.
This has been quite a month for me restaurant discovery - wise. First Lee Hou on Clement and now this - what a happy and well-fed chowhound I am.
Valencia Pizza and Pasta even delivers!
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