A little bit of Tuscany by way of West London:
Having booked dinner for 6pm when the restaurant starts evening service, and, as someone who generally errs on the side of caution, I managed to arrive before Villa di Geggiano in Chiswick opened. Peering through the iron gates, I could see a Tuscan style vine covered terrace, a pretty courtyard, a team of immaculately dressed staff and behind that what looked for all the world like a Tuscan villa. Unlike my companion for the evening, the redoubtable Hedonist, I knew nothing about this Italian restaurant in its previous incarnation when Marco Pierre White’s family lived upstairs and the ground floor was a joint venture between the bad boy chef and Frankie Dettori.
The current owner, Ilona Pacia refurbished and redesigned the space, inspired by the original Villa di Geggiano, a 400 year old Tuscan winery which produced the first Chianti every imported by Berry Brothers & Rudd. The Italian restaurant, a joint project with the Bianchi Bandinelli family, which offers a cellar door experience to Londoners means that you can buy Villa di Geggiano wines here both to drink with your meal and to take home later. With an all Italian team of chefs, headed by Emanuele Morisi and with many of the products served in the restaurant sourced from Italy, this restaurant is about as close as you’ll get to Tuscany without flying out to Florence…
An eclectic art collection decorates the spacious interior. There are two large private dining rooms and a comfortable lounge where you can enjoy an aperitif before dinner. The space really does belie the London location. Open for around 4 years, the launch of Villa di Geggiano must have coincided neatly with my move to South London. And that’s my only real excuse for not having seen this place before.
We started the evening at the bar, enjoying a glass of Prosecco Mani Sagge DOCG, a light, vibrant and bone dry glass of fizz which I thoroughly enjoyed. Still just warm enough to eat al-fresco, we ajourned to the terrace.
Delicate grissini and deliciously flavoured focaccia with estate olive oil were perfect to nibble on while we waited for our meal to start.
The first course, a burrata from Puglia came in a sea of warm mint and courgette. In less able hands this could have been a disaster but here, the balance of mint to courgette was light and the sauce just dense enough not to swamp the perfectly squidgy burrata. Tiny crisp croutons of foccacia added textural interest.
To drink we enjoyed a glass of organic Sauvignon Blanc Meriggio Fontodi from Central Tuscany, a light, crisp dry wine with notes of green apple and a subtle balanced acidity.
Next a pretty plate of pickled mackerel with pickled baby vegetables and a dill mayonnaise (the Italian name Sgombro in Carpione Con Sottaceti e Maionese deserves sharing). Again, a very light dish with that sweet-sour flavour you get from a good pickle.
The wine pairing of Pinot Grigio Livio Felluga 2017 from Friuli Colli Orientali was one which at first sip I wasn’t sure about. I’m not generally a fan of pinot grigio and this one had a strong honeysuckle nose. It worked surprisingly well though paired with the mackerel and I suspect that there was a need for something floral and soft to counter the sweet acidity of the pickling.
Gnocchi with cherry tomato sauce buffalo mozzarella and a generous spoonful of parmigiano was deliciously light and fresh, the piquant sweet cherry tomato sauce complementing the gnocchi themselves, compact, light and toothsome. I was somewhat distracted though by the Villa di Geggiano 2015 Chianti Classico which was as close to Italian wine perfection as I’ve tasted, full of red berries and lightly tannic.
Our main course of salmon was to suit the pescatorian Hedonist. A delicious and beautiful plate of pan fried fish was served with green beans and almond flakes on a light pea purée. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaked into large moist and tender pieces, under a crisp skin. I liked the contrast of the earthy beans with the sweetness of the salmon too.
Gavi di Gavi La Giustiniana from Piedmonte was a perfect foil for the dish with a long finish and soft, pleasant ripe apple and almond notes.
Dessert was a light dish of Italian cantaloupe melon served with a bitter sweet campari sorbet which we enjoyed with a contero moscato d’asti sparkling wine.
A double espresso, to ensure I stayed awake on the trek back south of the river was complemented by grappa from the di Geggiano estate to make sure I would sleep well of course. I was happily drifting off into a night under the Tuscan stars…
Then it was time to go. Like all good dinners, the evening at this charming Italian restaurant in Chiswick had been relaxed and timeless. Although it was nearly dark when we finished, it didn’t feel late and I could easily have just sat in the terrace for another hour or so. But, I know I’d have indulged in more of that delicious aged grappa. And that just wouldn’t have been wise at all!
Villa di Geggiano
66-68 Chiswick High Road,
London W4 1SY
020 3384 9442
Disclosure: We dined as guests of Villa di Geggiano
Looking for a more informal style of Italian restaurant in West London? We recommend Theo’s Simple Italian in South Kensington which serves a basic menu of Cucina Povera Italian dishes