Sara Tricker spends an evening at Valentina in East Sheen, looking for authentic Italian cuisine
I was looking forward to reviewing the restaurant Valentina in East Sheen as I’m familiar with it as a fabulous Italian delicatessen, serving great coffee. Valentina is the original branch of a now nine strong, family run business. It started life in 1991 as a delicatessen serving the very best of Italian food, and then a 35-seat restaurant was added, an opportunity to showcase the fantastic ingredients.
Graeme and I strolled into Sheen on a warm Saturday evening in August. We had booked and I was surprised to see the restaurant less than half full. You walk through the beautifully presented, well-stocked deli to the restaurant space behind. The restaurant has recently had a makeover and is an attractive, light and airy dining space. Table settings are simple and classy with large crisp napkins perfect for tucking into your collar for messy food!
To set the scene for our Italian experience we started with the aperitif, Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco, soda water, £5.95). Attractively served in a large wine glass with oodles of ice and gleaming ruby colour.
We started with two antipasti to share: antipasto della casa (an assortment of salumi served with primavera salad, provolone and buffalo mozzarella cheese with pane carasau, £8.25) – beautifully presented on crisp bread, the salumi was delicious; and caprese (vine tomato with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil, £6.95). The tomato was sadly under-ripe and the salad arrived undressed, however, the mozzarella was fabulous and would have complimented the salumi fantastically if served at the same time! Unfortunately, this was forgotten from our order and arrived very late. During our dinner we had three different waiting staff, each serving in the deli and the restaurant, so our evening was marred by any continuity in service.
Graeme decided that the simplicity of carbonara (£13.95) would showcase the fantastic ingredients. They also offer an English version with added double cream. He opted for the Italian classic, which was tasty, pasta al dente, but it would have benefitted from more pancetta. I selected involtino di Spigola e gamberone – oven cooked roulade of seabass fillet stuffed with king prawns, served on a bed of steamed spinach, crispy green beans and cherry tomatoes, £15.95. The dish was attractively presented with Italian colours, the spinach was generous and delicious, however the seabass was sadly overcooked and dry.
For dessert we shared a panettone – warm bread and butter pudding, glazed with orange marmalade and served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream £5.95). The serving was a generous square of pudding, but it was rather dry. A lovely restaurant but the service definitely needs looking at!
210 Upper Richmond Rd West, East Sheen
020 8392 9127