“History of L.A. Italian Restaurants” with Piero Selvaggio
Join us for the “History of L.A. Italian Restaurants” talk with the great Piero Selvaggio!
The evolution of Italian cuisine in Los Angeles from 1950 to now—including the classic restaurants from the early days of fine dining to the trattorias of today—influences, changes and current state of Italian food in the United States through Piero’s personal experience and insider perspective.
About the speaker:
Born in Modica, Sicily, Piero Selvaggio immigrated to the United States, arriving in Brooklyn at the age of 18. After washing dishes at a New York University cafeteria he moved to Los Angeles to live with an uncle who was a manager at the legendary Chasen’s. Piero was given a job as a busboy, attending college during the day. Within five years, he advanced from busboy to manager, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Romance languages, speaking fluent French, Spanish, English and Italian.
In 1972, when Selvaggio was 26, he sensed potential for quality Italian foods and wines in Los Angeles and opened Valentino. Valentino was awarded #1 of the top three restaurants in the country by Wine Spectator in 1995 and #1 by Ruth Reichl, then the restaurant critic of the New York Times, who praised Valentino as the best Italian restaurant in America.
In 1996, Selvaggio was the recipient of the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Service Award. In 1997, Valentino rated #1 in Wine Spectator’s list of “America’s 10 Best Italian Restaurants,” was voted “America’s Top Table” among Gourmet magazine’s readers, and received the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Hall of Fame Award. In addition, Selvaggio was given the Cavaliere Award by the President of the Sicilian region for his significant contribution to the image of Italian Heritage. In 1999, Valentino and The Grill at Valentino opened at the Venetian Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and now ranks as one of the finest fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas. Selvaggio opened Giorgio Ristorante e Caffe, at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, a casual restaurant with authentic Italian foods with appeal to a wide audience. In 2000 Selvaggio and Valentino were awarded Restaurants and Institutions’s Ivy Award of Distinction.
Free and open to the public