Wednesday, 7 October 2009


The new Valentina in Putney. Click the heading for more photos

Valentina, the best Italian delicatessen in south London for almost twenty years, has now opened a branch in Putney, and it's another star. The original deli added a cafe last year that serves delicious pasta, risottos and other Italian dishes, but the Putney sibling is a more striking design and has a cafe area where Guispeppe and his team serve 'spuntini' - small dishes in the manner of tapas (but better and more substantial) - for £3-4 each and there is also a larger restaurant and bar upstairs. As in the Sheen cafe, there's free wi-fi, a godsend if you are a visitor from overseas.

The delicatessen is still the main event here, and it's superbly well stocked with wonderful breads, oils and pastas, but also offers cooked foods such lasagne and raviolis to take away. The spuntini menu contains delicious antipasto di mare and a frittatina - and omlette made with courgettes and onions finished with mozarella - and other delicacies.

Upstairs the bar and restaurant are decorated with photos of the owner, Bruno Zoccola's ancestors and those of his cousins, who also work in the business, a still-life with scooter and sidecar, and a flat-screen TV showing old black-and white Italian films. Wines are spectacular, from the highly prized and highly priced Tuscans to more modest but still delicious chiantis and atelier wines. My favourite is the La Grola from Allegrini.

Altogether a perfect place to shop for food, relax with a plate of something or go with friends for a meal. If I'm not at home, you'll probably find me there.