As the owner of two popular waterfront restaurants, Pietro Valentini has found a recipe for success in great food and happy customers.
Perhaps it could be said that Pietro Valentini started out with dessert first. Valentini, the world-renowned restaurateur and owner of Pietro’s on the Ocean and Pietro’s on the River, has worked in 16 different countries, speaks five languages, and has opened dozens of internationally acclaimed restaurants, but it all started with a scoop of ice cream. Valentini, who was born in a ski resort in the Trentino region of the Italian Alps, took a teenage job for a neighbor with an ice cream place in Germany. One scoop was all it took for Valentini to realize that his forte was found near food.
He went to hotel school and learned the ropes, working as a maître d’ in Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy, England, France and other countries. Valentini spent much of his career working for Ritz-Carlton, traveling around the world, tasked with opening award-winning restaurants for the company’s five-star locations. “At each location, I would spend a year or so creating the restaurants,” recalls Valentini. “From concept, to service, to standard operating procedures, to selecting the table services and toothpicks—it was my job to make it happen.”
Valentini says he worked with professors in each of the 16 countries to become familiar with the country’s customs to create the best dining experience for the guests. “It was an incredible education,” he says.
In 1980, Valentini found himself in Boston, where he opened three different restaurants. Among the three was the Marquis de Lafayette, which was selected by the New York Times in 1984 as the No. 1 restaurant destination in the United States. When asked what it takes to create an internationally acclaimed dining experience, the humble Valentini says it is not a secret or magical formula. “In some businesses, they’ll tell you it’s ‘location, location, location,’” Valentini says. “I think it’s more simple than that—it’s a matter of trust,” he says. “I am passionate about my job and maintaining consistently superb service and products, of course, but most importantly, my staff and I genuinely care for the customers.” He insists on saying “Good evening” and “Good night, and thank you,” to each guest every evening.
Valentini may make it look and sound simple, but the Jupiter resident keeps a grueling schedule, working long days nearly every day of the week. Still, he drives his two youngest children, Zander and Lily, to school every morning to ensure quality time. When he does have time off, he relaxes by gardening (he grows his own fresh herbs and tends his own landscaping), cooking for his own family, and spending time with his wife, Cheryl. He also finds time to give back to the community. “The community keeps me alive,” he says. “The people who deal with the community’s problems and concerns are my customers, so I like to help as much as I can when I can.”
Pietro’s on the River has been serving restaurant-goers for more than six years, but Pietro’s on the Ocean has been open less than two years. People often tell him that his newest restaurant has a million-dollar view. He laughs, “I tell them, ‘Aim higher.’”