Selvaggio worked the room as only he can, making sure everyone was on to the next course, that they had wine (and plenty of it), and stopping to talk about the menu, which featured very Sicilian and Sardinian specialties that you don't often see in LA or even the States. Sicily because it's the island where Selvaggio is from, and Sardegna, the home of Valentino's executive chef Nico Chessa. They sourced many of the ingredients from Italy, including special breads, biodynamic wines, cheeses and these gorgeous, hard-to-find marzipan fruits and vegetables made by nuns (we won't bore you with our marzipan fish photo series, but we were kind of obsessed with the tuna).
Each course featured a two to five or six bites of something, switching from Sicily to Sardegna: Panelle, deliciously crisp chickpea fritters, and eggplant rolls from one, and then octopus skewers and smoked silver mullet with organic honey from the other. We had grilled cuttlefish, maccu (fava bean soup), and lamb belly with spicy chocolate sauce; guanciale, sartizza piccante (spicy salumi), and bottarga with baby artichokes; roast suckling pig and braised lamb; and cheeses with Sicilian mandarin jams. We probably tasted all 40 things, but one or two dishes may have gotten lost in the whirl. But out of all the tasting and talking, our favorite dishes, and favorite story, came with the pasta course.
Chefs Steve Samson (Sotto), Celestino Drago (Drago Centro, Osteria Drago) and pastry chef Davide Giova (Urth Caffe) helped in the kitchen. And out of nowhere Wolfgang Puck popped in to say congratulations - and grab some take-out for home.