For nearly 40 years the pizzeria served the public with dining, delivery and a service window facing the street for late-night pizza by the slice.
In summer 2021, Cody Taylor and Harlan Scott, both co-owners of the nearby restaurant Industry, began plans to renovate and restore Valentino’s to some of its former charm but also add their own touch to it. However, they underestimated the extent of the renovations necessary to get the pizzeria up and running again, Scott said.
“I think everybody, including Cody and I when we got the space a year ago, were hoping to put on a fresh coat of paint. ... But when we came in and saw that the ceiling was collapsing, the floors were collapsing, the vent hood and the bathrooms were out of date. ... Basically, the entire building was unsafe and unsanitary. So we realized that we had to completely gut it and rebuild it. We had no choice,” Scott said.
In the process of doing so Scott said they added two full-service bars including one opening up to the back patio, a newly designed bar in the front and a bar in the back that was previously just a room for storage and extra refrigeration.
One of the big differences is the pizza itself. Scott said they opted for a three-day fermentation process for the pizza dough instead of the original recipe that called for a 24-hour dough.
Opening a new restaurant is not without its hiccups. Scott said making the new dough from scratch proved limiting. In their opening days they began to run out of dough for pizzas, Scott said, due to the three-day turn around and one floor mixer, displayed prominently in one of the front window nooks.
Now they added a large shipping container-sized refrigeration unit that stands alone behind the restaurant, allowing them to quintuple their refrigeration space to prevent selling out of dough that is ready to be tossed and made into fresh pizza.
“The sauce and the fundamentals like the provolone that goes on it—that was all Valentino’s; we’re still doing that; but the dough itself is just different,” he said.
Some of the popular items from the previous incarnation of the restaurant are back in true form, Scott said, and they asked former employees and patrons to weigh in on what “must” be on the menu.
Scott and Taylor even invited former owner Bijan Afkami in prior to opening for his stamp of approval.
A patio area was added to the back of the building where they eventually plan to offer live music.
Much of the other renovations expose the original architectural elements of the building, Scott said, such as the brick and ceiling that was obscured by a drop-style ceiling. They will also bring back the pizza-by-the-slice window.
“A lot of the wood framing and shelves that you see are old floor joists from the building. So we repurposed all that,” Scott said. “We were trying to celebrate the building itself and then also Valentino’s old brand. Everywhere you go you’ll see little Easter eggs that pay homage to the old Valentino’s.”
110 N. LBJ Drive, San Marcos 512-967-1100 • www.valentinosbar.com
Hours: Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight