Ours is the original Valentina. It started here in East Sheen in the 80s and the success of what used to be simply a small deli (the restaurant bit has been added in the last 2/3 years) has spawned new branches in Putney (uggh) and Sevenoaks (odd). Incidentally, we miss Marco, he’s now the manager at Sevenoaks. He once sold me an emergency item for a forgotten (how clumsy) non-pork eating Sheen Suppers guest. It had ham in it. Ham in his part of Italy is not pork, apparantly.
The deli in itself is great – both for the usual cheese, meat, olives etc and the made on site pasta dishes, sauces, salads, puddings and panini. Try the boned stuffed chicken in breadcrumbs – brilliant.
The restaurant is also wonderful. Friendly staff, daily specials and a good (but Maino thinks a tad expensive) wine list. The Capella Romana is Maino’s favourite and rumour has it that Antonio Carluccio himself came to our humble little Valentina, ordered it and loved it. It’s a seriously meaty dish in every way. Meatballs, tagliatelle and sauce encased in a roomy Parma ham dome with more pasta and Bolognese sauce. I’ve never finished one and I am seriously greedy.
The menu changes regularly but the pasta dishes are always excellent value. The seafood pasta and risotto dishes are particulary good. The beef never disappoints; steak with rosemary potatoes or medallions with Gorgonzola sauce both fabulous. For pudding, have the Tiramisu. I’ll leave it at that.
This is a proper local, neighbourhood restaurant. Casual Italian cafe during the day, and that suits the clientale, smarter but still informal restaurant by night. All round good vibe – it’s a family business and feels like it.
210 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, SW14 8AH
Dinner, £25-30/head. (Large) stuffed chicken breast to take away, £6.
Informal atmosphere, great value pasta, big portions, friendly service and of course, the Capella Romana.