Giovanni Rocchio, chef-owner of Valentino Cucina Italiana
Why he’s Food 50: He’s following in his father’s footsteps and keeping alive the Valentino tradition of serving some of the best and freshest Italian food around.
Giovanni Rocchio had an attachment to Italian kitchens from a young age. His father, Tony, opened Valentino in Plantation in 1974, and young Giovanni showed an early interest in the restaurant’s fresh ingredients and time-honored recipes. He left to train and work in New York and Italy, returning in 2006 to open a new Valentino, his own, near downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Rocchio moved the dinner-only restaurant in 2012 to a bigger space with a full bar. It has allowed him and chef de cuisine Jimmy Everett to showcase the most of their modern Italian menu, including air-light ricotta cavatelli with osso bucco and porcini mushrooms. Ten years in, the second-generation Valentino remains a standout Italian restaurant in a city with droves of them, thanks in no small part to Rocchio’s commitment to consistently high-level food and hospitality.
Where to find him: Valentino Cucina Italiana, 620 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-5767
Gio’s Go-To Dishes
Giovanni Rocchio shares his favorite plates around town:
1. Brussels Sprouts at Drunken Dragon, 1424 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-397-8556.
2. Hamachi at Juvia, 1111 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-763-8272.
3. Grilled Foie Gras at The Local Craft Food & Drink, 150 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables; 305-648-5687.
4. Watermelon Salad at Yardbird, 1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-5220.
5. Everything at Café Boulud, 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-6060.
6. Hot Dog Panini at Buccan, 350 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-833-3450.
7. Pizza at Osteria Acqua & Farina, 1145 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-1115.