Valentina Fine Foods, Chiswick
Valentina Fine Foods is an Italian delicatessen and restaurant group owned and run by the Zoccola and Arcari families. The original Valentina opened in East Sheen in 1991, followed by Putney, Sevenoaks, Notting Hill Gate and finally Chiswick, which opened in October 2014.
You enter the restaurant on Chiswick High Road through a delicatessen filled with a huge range of Italian delicacies such as pastas, cheese, cured meats, olives, pastries, traditional antipasti, and olive oils (including an own-label olive oil in a large stainless steel barrel with a tap, where customers are encouraged to bring their own bottle for refill).
If you can pull yourself away from this initial enticement, and up a few small steps, you will find the Valentina restaurant at the top. A charming photo wall of the various family members looks over the dining area and a classic Moto Guzzi Lodola motorbike hangs from the right wall – an item I am told is found in many of the Valentina restaurants.
Manager Carmine Macari talked us through the menu while we nibbled on antipasti of bruschetta with juicy tomatoes and Valentina’s delicious own-label olive oil. We began with a starter of fritto misto (deep fried squid) which comes with one large prawn and a few fried courgettes that add some colour and freshness to the dish; and prawn gamberoni with sliced avocado and a hint of chilli.
Next we moved on to our mains; an intriguing dish called Cappella Romana – tagliatelle, homemade meatballs and mozzarella, wrapped in Speck ham, then baked in the oven and served with a simple tomato and basil sauce. It’s a hearty plate with many textures, and very filling! We also shared the Orecchiette (small ear-shaped pasta) cooked with Tuscan fennel sausage and roasted red peppers in a light cherry tomato sauce, which was equally satisfying.
We were already full to the brim but the Homemade Tiramisu was too tempting to resist – layers of Savoiardi, mascarpone, espresso coffee, chocolate and finished with a dash of Marsala wine.
Of course we couldn’t leave without filling our bags with Italian treats from the delicatessen and I will definitely be returning to refill my olive oil when it runs out.
Valentina Chiswick is a reasonably priced restaurant. The portions are large so go hungry and be prepared to be full… perhaps we didn’t need to share two starters, two mains and a dessert!
Wine: From £4.35 (glass) £16.46 (bottle)
404-406 Chiswick High Rd