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Valentino turns 40 with specially priced menus

Valentino, the landmark Santa Monica Italian restaurant, has never been cheap, but it's always been a good value. Nobody cooks refined alta cucina like Piero Selvaggio's crew. And that wine list. And the white truffles!

But now, to celebrate the coming of the restaurant's 40th birthday next December, Valentino is downright affordable. At least on Monday nights. Selvaggio is instituting a special "40 plus 40" promotion that will feature a three-course meal for $40. In addition, he'll have a wine list of 40 bottles priced at $40.

Among the winter offerings from Selvaggio and chef Nico Chessa might be fried calamari or spinach and mushroom salad with pancetta. Follow that with spaghetti alla carbonara or risotto ai frutti di mare. Finish with chicken with peppers and sausage or a lasagna with farmers market vegetables, ricotta and tomatoes. Desserts will be $6.

Selvaggio also has some special guests lined up throughout the year, including Tuscan Dario Cecchini, the world's most famous butcher, and Sacramento grocer Darrell Corti, who knows more about food and wine than almost anyone living.

Valentino, 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 829-4313, www.valentinorestaurants.com.


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Photo: Selvaggio in the Valentino wine cellar, by Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times.

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