RESTAURANT REVIEW: VALENTINA, LAVENDER HILL

Discover Valentina restaurant, Lavender Hill’s top spot for a decadent Italian lunch with friends…

Words: Lorraine Crighton-Smith

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best. It’s the pizza frittas at Valentina on Lavender Hill that have stuck in my mind – and are one of the key reasons I’d recommend this restaurant to my best friends. We devoured the simple strips of pizza dough, fried and sprinkled with rock salt and crack black pepper as recommended by our waiter; the warm dough – soft in the middle, crispy on the outer corners – were like spectacular savoury donuts.

Guests are treated to hand knead pizza dough and freshly baked bread

Guests are treated to Italian wine and hand knead pizza dough

The Italian deli and restaurant is the brainchild of two families, the Zoccola and Arcari families, who opened the first Valentina in East Sheen in 1991. There are now nine in London and the Home Counties. The Zoccolas and Arcaris are passionate about pizza – and, despite having already sampled the moreish dough as a starter, I decided to try their signature pizza: Bianca Valentina. The hand-knead dough topped with Parma ham, rich Fior de Latter mozzarella, rocket, parmesan shavings with a black truffle oil did not disappoint.

My friend Rachel ordered the special pasta of the month – Zita Spacca Napoli – perfectly firm tube pasta with a rich pork ragu and grated Grand Padano cheese. It turned out to be a rather decadent and long lunch (but not the traditional multi-course Italian meal structure) so we declined dessert, but options include classics such as tiramisu, panettone and gelato.

The sumptuous deli is well worth a visit for quality ingredients

The sumptuous deli is well worth a visit in it’s own right

If you don’t fancy pizza or pasta, the mains menu covers bases such as steak, sea bream and rump of lamb, while the wine list features an impressive selection of traditional and contemporary Italian wine. The deli is well worth a browse too.

THE KNOWLEDGE

Cost…
Around £40 for two including a glass of wine each

Good for…
Authentic Italian cuisine

What to eat…
The signature pizza, the Bianca Valentina

What to know…
Valentina first opened in East Sheen in 1991

281 Lavender Hill SW11 1LP; 020 3841 1610; valentinafinefoods.com

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