Valentina is an Italian fine food deli and restaurant that was first opened in 1991 by two Italian families in East Sheen. The store was so successful that they opened a second one, and a third, and several others. They just opened their eighth deli and restaurant in Tower Bridge, in the lovely Shad Thames Street. You have to pass through the boutique to access the restaurant, which is a great way to open your appetite. The decoration of the restaurant is modern classy with some typical Italian landmarks like a Vespa and a petite camionette.
It took us a while to decide ourselves as everything sounded properly delicious. We started the feast with fritto misto which are deep fried calamari rings, and a platter of antipasto della casa: an assortment of thinly-sliced meats and cheese from the deli counter. That was a great introduction to all the flavours of Italy.
Following the advice of our waitress, we ordered – as primi piatti to share – napoletana pasta cooked with a traditional Neapolitan tomato and basil sauce, finished with mozzarella cheese and tiny Polpette (meatballs). We actually ordered the gluten free pasta – what a great surprise to learn they do fresh gluten free pasta, also available to buy in-store. As secondi, we ordered the bisteca, which is an Aberdeen Angus ribeye steak served with roast potatoes and a thyme sauce. A nice bottle of merlot recommended by our waitress was ordered to go with the food feast.
The food was beautifully delicious and well cooked. The delightful flavours were dancing on my papillae like a prima ballerina on stage. The gluten free pasta looked and tasted as pasta should, to my absolute delight, the meatballs were full of flavours and the steaks were cooked the way we asked to perfection. The portions were enormous and it was not hunger that led us to the end of the meal, it was greediness. The wine was a perfect companion to all the dishes.
Despite the fact that we were already rightfully full, with that amazing farandole of dishes, I couldn’t resist trying their tiramisu. The lovely desert came into a cute coffee cup and was everything expected, thick, rich, smooth, gorgeous.
Although the families have several restaurants in London and opening more and more, each restaurant has its own identity and I highly recommend you try the fine food deli and the restaurant in Tower Bridge. It is well worth the trip. And if you are as frustrated as I am to be gluten intolerant, do not hold back, I was amazed at the quality of their gluten free pasta.
31 Shad Thames
Tel: 0207 036 6028