In 2018, Valente’s Italian Specialties opened in Haddonfield as a small market; with shelves of specialty items, cured meats hanging from the ceiling, and pre-made meals from family recipes. However, after opening a small sandwich shop inside the space to offer atypical products for Valente’s, an idea sparked. Now, Valente’s Cucina mixes “South Philly comfort food” with small Italian plates.
Owner Marcello De Feo is a first-generation Italian-American with roots in Abruzzo and Philadelphia. He’s been working in restaurants, Italian bakeries, and Italian specialty stores since age 11. “This is my passion,” he says.
But the plan to transition Valente’s Italian Specialties into Valente’s Cucina is not new. In fact, De Feo was hoping to open up sooner. The COVID-19 crisis is the reason for the delay, but the time away let him focus on menu research. (Meanwhile, he kept his business running by selling pasta kits, family meals, and online orders for pastas and sauces.)
“I put a lot of time and effort into developing the menu,” De Feo says. Speaking about the BYOB Italian eatery, he adds “I want to put my family’s history and my heritage on display. I need to prove I’m not just another Italian restaurant in Haddonfield; and that I can build something to leave behind someday for my children.”
What’s Cooking in the Cucina
At Valente’s Cucina, the lunch menu offers mainly salads and sandwiches. “Lunch is casual, with a menu I like to describe as ‘South Philly comfort food,’” says De Feo. “We expect patrons to sit at the bar. Our staff will be in more casual dress. Indie rock with a heavy focus on local bands will play over the speakers.”
For example, sandwich options include cheesesteak, which De Feo says is a popular pick. “We use quality meat that is never frozen and we cut fresh and pack a pound of it onto a Sarcone’s loaf,” he says. Other options include the Nonna Paoloa sandwich and the Gaetano. Click here for the full lunch menu.
Come dinnertime, however, you’ll find small plates, flatbreads, and seasonal farm-to-table dishes. “Dinner will be a more upscale experience, with buttoned-up attire from every staff member,” says De Feo. Menu items include the Caponta Agrodolce flatbread and salads like the Anguria, as well as the Torchio pasta dish. Likewise, signature small plates range from Arancini and Burrata to Short Rib Meatballs. Click here to see the dinner menu.
In addition, though the spot is BYOB, Valente’s Cucina offers vines from Auburn Road Vineyard to pair with your meal.
School’s in Session at Valente’s Cucina
But wait, because the fun doesn’t stop when you leave Valente’s. They offer a number of online classes, and hope to expand to in-person sessions as well. (When it is safe to do so, of course.) At the moment, classes include a pasta class and a private wine and dine cooking class; with topics ranging from cooking and serving to wine pairings and menu development. You can click here to find more details about their classes.
On top of that, they plan to soon offer a private five-course tasting menu for up to eight guests. During the tasting, the chefs will discuss meal prep and the ingredients of each course.
Finally, Valente’s Cucina also offers a supper club meal service that sends family dinners straight to your door. Click here to learn more about that.
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