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SFL Hospitality Group Celebrates Official Opening of Val+tino in Fort Lauderdale

The Italian restaurant, with a seating capacity of 100, offers a remarkable five-course Chef's Tasting Menu coupled with an extensive selection of wines.

Val+tino, a contemporary Italian dining destination in Fort Lauderdale led by Executive Chef Giovanni Rocchio and Chef de Cuisine Jake Abbott, recently celebrated its opening. The restaurant blends Italian and Mediterranean flavors to provide an inspired, welcoming experience with dishes that allow guests to have a unique exploration of cuisine each time they dine at the restaurant. 

The highlight of the restaurant is a five-course Tasting Menu regularly curated by their chefs. It provides guests with a unique opportunity to taste and experience elevated dining on a rotating basis. In addition, Val+tino also offers an A La Carte Menu that evolves seasonally, featuring exceptional dishes such as Berkshire Pork with nduja, porchetta, and escarole; Strozzapreti, a seafood bolognese with Colatura and green onion; and Gianduja, a dark chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut gelato. To complement these dishes, desserts are crafted by in-house Pastry Chef Carlos Salgado and can be paired with a selection of aperitifs.

The extensive wine list at Val+tino is carefully selected by Stephan Cole, who is an experienced sommelier. The list comprises over 125 bottles, and skilled and knowledgeable sommeliers are on the floor to understand guests’ preferences and suggest outstanding wines that perfectly complement each meal.

Chef Giovanni Rocchio, who was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, spent almost 30 years refining his cooking style professionally with his expertise rooted in authentic Italian cuisine. During his culinary journey, Rocchio worked at New York City’s Picholine, where he acquired a discipline that only the toughest kitchens could instill, and also spent his summers in Italy studying authentic cuisine.

Rocchio is widely recognized as the former Executive Chef of Valentino Cucina Italiana and a pioneering force in the Fort Lauderdale culinary landscape. He is credited for introducing the concept of fine dining to the region in 1998 and has since been pushing the boundaries of the industry with his latest enterprise—Val+tino. His passion for unleashing his creativity and his knack for forging meaningful connections with guests through food has been rekindled by his collaboration with SFL Hospitality Group.

“As someone who has spent decades in the industry, I’ve had the pleasure of watching it evolve and being part of its evolution,” says Rocchio. “I couldn’t be more excited to get back in the kitchen and work alongside Chef Jake Abbott to blend an old school and new school approach to contemporary cuisine. A tasteful fusion of tradition and contemporary allure, Val+tino is a special concept that could not be possible without Mike Linder and Chef Jake Abbott’s support. We’re creating a really special dining experience which we think will elevate the dining scene in Fort Lauderdale.”

The Ohio-native Chef Jake Abbott discovered his passion for cooking during his time spent on his grandfather’s farm. He then embarked on a journey to work in New York City’s Michelin-starred restaurants, learning from renowned chefs like Joe Anthony and Laurent Tourendel. He aimed to refine his technical skills, which led him to the 2-Michelin Star Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant, where he credits his development as a chef. His culinary inspiration is drawn from the beautiful seasonal ingredients and the lessons he learned during his time in New York City. While working at the Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant, he met Chef Giovanni Rocchio, and their friendship blossomed during a stage. Chef Jake Abbott eventually moved to South Florida to become the Chef de Cuisine at Val+tino under Rocchio’s guidance.

“Our mission with Val+tino is to provide a welcoming environment for guests to explore new cuisine with the restaurant’s signature tasting menu,” says Abbott. “Changed regularly, the five-course tasting menu highlights seasonal ingredients and will give guests the opportunity to try something new every time they visit.”

The collaboration between Chef Giovanni Rocchio and Chef Jake Abbott has been brought to life by Mike Linder, the owner of SFL Hospitality Group. Linder is recognized for his ability to create dining destinations that offer exceptional cuisine, stellar service, and a welcoming ambiance. His Service, Food, Location (SFL) approach has become a hallmark of his establishments, which consistently exceed guest expectations.

“As SFL Hospitality Group’s fifth concept, Val+tino is a major addition to our portfolio of restaurants and will continue to add value to what our group has to offer,” Linder says. “The dynamic between Chef Giovanni and expert sommelier Stephan Cole’s longstanding relationship of over 17 years, paired with Chef Jake Abott’s perspective, creates something special for Fort Lauderdale and the Rio Vista community. We are proud to now operate three incredible concepts at the iconic 620 building.” 

Situated just south of Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, the 620 South Federal Highway building is now housing three unique dining concepts—Val+tino, Canyon and Rio’s Tequila Bar, all owned by SFL Hospitality Group. The company is always on the lookout for fresh opportunities to introduce distinctive dining experiences to South Florida.

For more information about Val+tino, please visit Valandtino.com or call 954-451-1200.

Photo credit: Schneider Photography & Film

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