Wonderful people atmosphere
You can have full meals, suppers or just coffees
Wonderfully welcoming staff
Favorite Dish: It's a popular place - busy, intimate, fun, relaxed. very cosmopolitan. And with Christchurch Town Hall just around the corner, always popular with visiting artists...there are lots of their trade marks all over the walls
UPDATE - unfortunately this has been closed since the February 2011 earthquakes.
Café Valentino may come up with frequency in conversation with locals. I know it did for me. After leaving our dining selection up to a local, there was no moment of hesitation, Valentino's it was.
The place may be busy on weekends, so may require reservations, but on weekdays, seats are typically available. The atmosphere is a bit trendy, but casual. There are lots of posters and paintings on the wall, along with various mementos, making it very comfortable.
Favorite Dish: The menu is fairly extensive, and all things are recommended. A menu item that was removed, but occasionally makes its way onto the daily specials is the Penne Basilica (penne with red sauce, and tender lamb)!! Absolutely delicious. If you are a carnivore, the meatballs are great too.
All the desserts were fantastic, like the cheesecake and cioccolato.
Update 21 November 2012 - Café Valentino has reopened!
I use the bigger font size to announce this great news: Café Valentino - which was so badly damaged that it had to be demolished after the earthquakes - has reopened in St. Asaph Street :-)) The owner could even retrieve photos and artwork from the old place before the diggers went in.
The new address:
168 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8013
(located between Colombo and Durham Streets, close to the central bus station and South City Mall)
Phone (03) 377 1886
Post-earthquake update June 2011
Sadly, this wonderful place has been demolished since the earthquake on 22 February 2011. The owner is keen to build a new place at the same site as soon as possible.
Although we have not made any bad experience there, you sometimes hear or read of very disappointed customers who complain about rude waiting staff, long waiting times, bad food, odd seating and unbearable noise. We, however, have always been delighted with the food and the service when we were having dinner at Valentino. We are no real regulars though, as there is such a big choice of restaurants, and I am quite good in cooking Italian myself, so do not always need it when we dine out. But we go there every now and then.
We have tried the breads and dips (focaccia bruschetta with four pestos), minestrone, pizza and pasta, and tiramisù. Everything was fine. The tiramisú is seriously delicious.
The menu is extensive, so sometimes it is rather hard to decide what to eat. (And the size of the menus is so large that you would nearly need bigger tables LOL)
Apart from the breads the starters are rather expensive, whereas the prices for pasta and pizza are very well priced for Christchurch standards. Mains about $30.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, not like so many cool Italian places that have the warmth of a freshly tiled bathroom.
As Valentino is very popular, especially on the weekend, and big groups regularly show up, conversations can become a little difficult at times. But the - normally - very good food makes up for this.
Update 17 Dec 2008
I have been back at Café Valentino this week with friends and was pleasantly surprised that they have not raised their prices for pasta. Whereas in other restaurants you pay up to $ 29 for relatively simple pasta dishes, and the atmosphere is not nearly as nice as in Café Valentino, their price range is from $ 16.50 to 20.50 (marinara). We were all totally delighted with the dishes. So again a very good experience.
Update 21 Dec 2009
In the meantime we have been back several times, and I have developed a special liking for tagliatelle pollo e pistaccio, pasta with small chicken cubes, pistaccio nuts and grapes. The last time it was a bit bland but after adding some salt and pepper it was very nice.
Update 15 February 2011
This restaurants remains a delight. I dare to say, it is the best value of the iconic restaurants in Christchurch. It is also fun to sit on the bar stools at the high tables on the footpath for drinks before dinner.
We were on our walk around the city when we started feeling a little hungry. Upon walking down Colombo Street we noticed a few restaurants and cafes so we decided this looked like a nice area to have some dinner. We checked a few different places and decided on cafe Valentino primarily because of the menu and also because of the atmosphere. It has alfresco dinning as well as indoors. We started out alfresco but the cooling afternoon breeze forced us indoors.
Favorite Dish: Sue's Fettuccine apollo was very nice. Col had Linguini marinara, while nicely cooked & presented wasn't what I normally expect from a marinara. The garlic bread was delightful.