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HomeTravel'It's Valentino 2.0': Chef Giovanni Rocchio will open Val+Tino in Fort Lauderdale...

‘It’s Valentino 2.0’: Chef Giovanni Rocchio will open Val+Tino in Fort Lauderdale this December

‘It’s Valentino 2.0’: Chef Giovanni Rocchio will open Val+Tino in Fort Lauderdale this December

Guess who is back? In a huge show of Fort Lauderdale’s culinary muscle, chef Giovanni Rocchio will reopen his celebrated modern Italian restaurant, Valentino Cucina Italiana, in its former location south of the New River with a new name, menu and renovation: Val+Tino.

When it debuts sometime in December, the 3,500-square-foot restaurant will neighbor the 620 S. Federal Highway building with another Fort Lauderdale icon, Canyon.

Val+Tino is a partnership between Rocchio and restaurateur Mike Linder (South Bar & Kitchen, Jet Runway Café), whose SFL Food Group has quietly taken over a major restaurant empire throughout Broward County, including Canyon. Val+Tino’s arrival cuts Canyon’s existing dining room, which remained open during the transformation, in half.

In Val+Tino’s kitchen there will be a sight familiar to veteran Fort Lauderdale diners: Rocchio, an old-school pasta master, presiding over a team of polished professionals, folding and filling tagliatelle, strozzapretti andcasoncelli by hand. Even the staff should be familiar: About 75 percent of the original Valentino staff will return to Val+Tino, Linder says.

He is careful not to call Val+Tino a revival of Valentino Cucina Italiana, which closed in 2020 after 13 years, but rather as fine dining “taken to the next level” with fresh Mediterranean touches.

“It’s Valentino 2.0,” says Linder, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale and also reinvented Canyon’s menu and atmosphere in 2022. “Giovanni won’t have to worry about anything other than being in the kitchen, doing the best he can.”

Rocchio prefers a different metaphor to describe the imminent return of Val+Tino. “It’s like Michael Jordan retired to play baseball and then came back to the NBA,” he says. “We still have something to prove and the reason for coming back is to do better. And I think without the added stress on my shoulders, the food will be better.”

The “stress” Rocchio refers to comes from being a chef and at the same time owning Valentino, which he ran from 2006 to 2019 until exhaustion and fatigue set in, leading him to resign. (Valentino carried on without Rocchio for about nine more months before his eventual demise.)



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