Iliya Dimitrov of Valentino's Cucina Italiana Has a Secret Weakness For Ben & Jerry's

Categories: Tastemakers

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Not to sound pretentious, but there are bartenders and then there are mixologists. Bartenders are perfectly happy pouring a beer or mixing together a vodka and soda. Mixologists, on the other hand, are like mad--drunken--scientists: mixing up concoctions that have never been seen before.

Iliya Dimitrov is the latter and that is why he is number 15 on our Tastemakers list. Behind the bar of Valentino's Cucina Italiana, Dimitrov can be spotted making up some crazy potions: he makes his own bitters, limoncello, infusions, and more. Consuming one of his creations is like imbibing a work of art.

The most influential person in my career has been...
Paul Martin, on premise mixologist for Beefeater Distillery in London. When I started doing mixology competitions, representing Bulgaria [Dimitrov's home county], Martin hosted the entire competition. Very talented: a great bar keeper.

When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
Ice cream--Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream.

What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
A lot. We need more ethnic food. Things like Vietnamese and Indian are very hard to find. There's definitely a market. We have sports bars popping up left and right, but we need other concepts.

You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
Sysco food: fried mozzarella sticks, Sysco jalapeno poppers--I don't want to see that.

You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
Bar Spooners. The logo is going to be two crossed bar spoons behind a shaker and strainer--like a skull and crossbones. I'm going to serve old, classic tiki drinks with island flavors. And I want to do bar food with, like, 20 different bruschettas: foie gras, lardo, organs. I guess European style with a Southern influence.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Behind the bar of Bar Spooners.

Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
Five Comedians and George W. Bush

New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous 2013 Tastemakers are listed below.

30. Robyn Almodovar of Palate Party Food Truck
29. Chris and Jordan Bellus of Laser Wolf
28. Fulvio Sardelli of Sardelli's Italian Steakhouse
27. Brett Chiavari of BC Tacos
26. Mike Halker of Due South Brewing
25. Chrissy Benoit of the Little House Boynton Beach
24. Dean Max of DJM Restaurants
23. Lauren Bowen of Tap 42

22. Vaughan Lazar of Kapow!

21. Eric Guerro, Mark Fee, and Jeff Evans of Angry Union Brewing
20. Ben Lubin of The Blind Monk
19. Susan Kim of Gabose
18. Julieta Bocos of Casa Frida
17. Marc Falsetto of Rok:Brgr
16. Frank Coniglio of E.R. Bradley's Saloon



Location Info

Valentino's Cucina Italiana

620 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Category: Restaurant

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