First, let me give you my bonafides, so to speak. I'm a Texas girl who loves my Italian after having lived in the NE (CT & NY) for ten years, so when I think pizza I think thin crust with a bit of char, a bit of chew, light on the sauce, light on the toppings and good cheese. To me, the classic red-sauce Italian resto dinner would be a simple baked ziti. If the ziti is good, you can feel safe in branching out.
We frequently travel 1-20 to go back and forth to baseball games, family visits and such, and sadly had ignored the cute little bright aluminum-panel /diner-looking Valentino's for years. One Sunday night when everything but fast food seemed to be closed we decided to give it a shot. Revelation!
Valentino's might be too good to be an interstate restaurant in a tiny little west Texas town. Seriously, this is what I consider NY Italian, for good reason. The owner, a transplant to NY from Bosnia (maybe Croatia? apologies to Sam - it's been years since that first stop & conversation!) lived and cooked in theCity for almost 20 years (ironically a few streets down from my husband's childhood Bronx neighborhood). How he ended up in Eastland is a wonderfully beneficial mystery.
Hyperbole? Try the pizza. Try the calzone. Ziti, lasagne, salmon with picatta, but most of all, try the ribeye marsala. In all honesty that is one of the best marsala sauces I have ever had in my life. Sam doesn't skimp, he doesn't mess around and lower the recipe to a west TX sort of Italian standard (we see you & give you the stinkeye, O. Garden) - he makes truly delicious, authentic Italian the way it should be made.
It's like being able - finally - to have a little bit of my "other home's" cuisine. (Yes, even the pizza.)
Valentino's Italian Restaurant
3200 Interstate 20 E, Eastland, TX 76448
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