November 04 2009
The Valentina deli-café in East Sheen, Surrey, has been an exquisite reason to break the journey along the A205 for as long as I can remember, so it was with relish that I looked forward to the opening of their new double-storey outpost in East Putney. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Situated at the other end of Putney from most fashionable restaurants, it combines a more formal mezzanine-level restaurant with Italian spuntino tapas bar and deli downstairs.
It is the perfect place to stock up on fresh pesto, spaghetti nero or pane carasau, and you can also order fresh white Alba truffles and top up your own olive oil from the in-house vat. Dozens of legs of Parma ham hang above the tapas tables, where you can enjoy a glass of wine from a small but well-sourced Italian wine list while contemplating the menu. A large platter of aubergines, courgettes and peppers were grilled to antipasto perfection and accompanied by large wheels of crispy calamari, basil and ragu-rich polpetta di carne meatballs and rosemary lamb cutlets. Top marks, though, go to the gnocchi al gorgonzola, delicious even for non-gnocchi fans, and already one of the top spuntino dishes.
With prices around £3.50 per dish, the concept of Italian tapas, backed up by friendly, knowledgeable service, is one that is being very warmly welcomed in this corner of south-west London. It looks like a winning concept, so don’t be surprised if more start to pop up in neighbourhoods around town and country.