Away from Central London, there is less of a selection of good authentic restaurants. In areas like Putney, the high street and around is dominated by non descript chains with mediocre offerings. Along comes Valentina, a family run chain of Italian Delis and restaurants with three branches around London. The deli has a massive selection of the best Italian produce you can get or want, including White Alba truffles when in season.
This Italian deli in Putney has a nice selection of their own sausages made by their own chef. If that is not enough, they even have their own top of the range olive oil too. As they have a lot of pre prepared food that you can just heat up at home, it is a great place to pick up an authentic pasta sauce on the way home. They also have an extensive selection of wines, hand picked by the team for quality.
The olives were recently harvested in October and from this harvest, they created a small amount of first pressing green olives. This is unlike any olive oils that are sold commercially as they are made from olives that are harvested a little earlier than the commercial crop. It also has to be consumed within a short time frame as it loses its unique flavours after a few months.
Recently, I was invited Valentina for a dinner, hosted by Fabio, one of the many cousins who run the Valentina chain. The Italian food here is rustic a modern twist. We tasted this amazing first pressing oil, which was used as a dipping oil or drizzled over mozarella. The oil is more green and fresh in flavour than the commercial bottled variety. They only managed to bring over 20 litres of this oil and is not usually sold in the UK.
Chef Massimo created a few stunning dishes which started with a bruschetta with tomato and mandara mozzarella, drizzled with more of the lovely new season olive oil.
One of the main attractions of the Valentina restaurant is their range of wines. You can buy a great bottle from the shop to have with your meal upstairs for a small corkage charge. There are some great labels (behind locked glass doors) which you can have for a fraction of what you will pay at other restaurants.
Next, we had a pan fried capesanta with creamed vegetables , topped with crispy leeks- totally delicious. I found a new way to cook vegetables, fab.
This was followed by a sausage risotto, made with their own home made wild boar fennel sausages. You could taste the fennel quite distinctively even when thinly sliced in the risotto
We finished with a poached pear in red wine and chocolate.
The evening is not complete without something from the deli. We were given one of their delicious artisanal panetonne to take home, which I can report is fruity and rich. I will have go back for another one before christmas.
There are more casual tables by the deli downstairs where they serve a spuntino menu, lots of smaller dishes like Venetian cicchetti. They even do pizzas for takeaway which is much, much better than those nasty pizza takeaway companies.
When it is warmer, there is a hidden terrace on the first floor, off the main restaurant. If I lived in Putney, this would be my canteen. Everything I have tasted there was delicious and you can get any Italian produce that you need too.
This review is for Valentina Italian Restaurant in Putney. They have branches in East Sheen and Sevenoaks.
75 Upper Richmond Road,
020 8877 9906