The best of Italian food and cooking has proved a recipe for success for a business founded here in East Sheen.
Bruno Zoccola and his family saw a superb opportunity when they took over Valentina, a thriving independent deli on the Upper Richmond Road almost ten years ago.
The first changes they made were to create a small restaurant at the back of the shop, enabling them to use many of the products for sale at the front in their delicious dishes. and to strengthen the range of food and wine available in the deli.
It was a formula that was popular from the start and there are now no less than nine Valentina restaurants and delis: Sheen, Putney, Notting Hill, Sevenoaks, Chiswick, Tower Bridge, Reigate, Battersea and Weybridge.
They all have the same family-run ethos, the same menu, the same wines and the same high quality products on sale, all of which adds up to the same authentic taste and style of sunny Italy.
“We are passionate about high quality Italian food and wine and want this to be reflected across our business,” says Bruno, “which is one reason why we now also run an import and distribution company. It means that we can source the best products from all corners of Italy and keep good control of our stock levels.”
It is the company’s unique link with family and Italy that underpins the success that has been achieved. Many staff members are members of their extended family and Bruno’s daughter, Gabriela, and son are on the board.
Gabriela and her cousin, Carmine, share responsibility for the smooth running of all nine restaurant-delis, ensuring consistency and quality whichever one you visit.
In the spirit of quality and keeping the business in tiptop shape, East Sheen recently underwent a refurbishment in time to celebrate 25 years on our high street. The restaurant area has been tastefully redecorated and has a more spacious layout and the redesigned deli allows for stunning displays of tempting Italian produce.
The Zoccola family hails originally from the tiny village of Saint Elia, near Cassino, and many of their staff, recipes, and products, come from there as well, including the olive oil sold in the shop and used in the restaurant which is their own special blend from trees that are well over 100 years old. The lovely photographs of people and Italian life that adorn the walls of the restaurants are all originals and include portraits of relatives.
And Valentina now has an extensive range own brand Italian products, ranging from sauces, anti-pasti, vinegars, pastas, wine, and many others, all of which can be bought instore or online at www.valentinafinefoods.com
“Wine is a big part of our appeal, too,” says Carmine, who takes care of East Sheen’s operations and works closely with manager, Dominico. “We stock over 200 wines, all from Italy.”
Asked to sum up the restaurant side of the business, he says: ”We try to achieve authentic old-school recipes with a modern twist. We aim to cater for the changing needs of customers throughout the day – from coffee and breakfast to light snacks and lunch, through to early dinners for young families and adult dining later in the day.”
“We change our menus three or four times a year, offer winter and summer dishes, plus special offers and a loyalty scheme, too. It’s simple and tasteful food. You can buy it in the shop to cook yourself, take it away already prepared, or eat it in the restaurant.”
Isn’t it time you visited Valentina? The kitchen is open all day, ready to serve you.
Valentina, 210 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen SW14 8AH | 020 8877 9906