A well-known local chef is back with a new destination restaurant in a vibrant part of town
BY ALLEN PIERLEONI
One of Sacramento’s oldest thoroughfares is also one of its most dynamic. Each week, join us on a stroll along Del Paso Boulevard, where you’ll discover new and vintage businesses and organizations, and meet the people who make Uptown Sacramento their home. This new feature is presented every Thursday by Sacramento News & Review in conjunction with the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership.
“This is the best food I’ve served in my career,” said sushi artist Lou Valente. A simple statement of fact and also a mouthful, given the gravitas of his career arc.
Valente traded Philadelphia for Los Angeles in 1991, arriving in Sacramento in 2010 after a stop at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. What followed were openings of or stops at Sushi on the River, Taka’s Sushi and Zen Sushi. The big-time move was his eponymous Lou’s Sushi in Midtown, a landmark he left in 2017.
Now Valente is back with Southpaw Sushi, joining the kinetic culinary scene on Del Paso Boulevard. He and his two partners worked with an architect to design and refurbish the space once occupied by Mama Kim Eats, and opened last August. “I think we hit a home run,” he said.
The dining room and sushi bar are awaiting the artistic touch of Sacramento celebrity muralist Shaun Burner. He’ll create a themed mural covering two inside walls, which might involve a stylized octopus.
“This is the first restaurant I’ve ever owned or worked at that’s a destination spot,” Valente said. “All my followers are coming here and we’re creating new regulars each week.”
Valente sources much of his sashimi-grade fish from seafood markets in Japan. “I spare no expense,” he said. “I’m really serious about it.” One of his specialties is nigiri – sliced raw fish on top of a rice ball. “It’s a lost art form.”
Valente’s presence on the Boulevard is a draw, as he joins the likes of King Cong Brewing Co., Woodlake Tavern and Shift Coffee House.
“I remember 20 years ago, (the city) was trying to create a renaissance on Del Paso Boulevard,” he said. “I think it’s finally happening. We love it here.”
1616 Del Paso Blvd., 916-550-2600 www.southpawsushi.com.
Days and hours: 5-10 p.m.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 4-10 p.m.
Saturdays, 4-9 p.m. Sundays.