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Villaggio Italiano

Villaggio Italiano
25, High St Wimbledon
Wimbledon Village
SW19 5DX
Tel: 0208 946 7779

If you ever pass through Wimbledon Village in South West London, you'll encounter a cloyingly twee, middle-class but fetchingly pretty high street lined with shops selling useful everyday items like luxury paperclips, ostrich eggs, art deco glassware and eye-wateringly expensive designer clothing. What else can you expect in the home of the All-England Tennis Club, I suppose?

However, I'm a big fan and not least because of a small corner of the Village which will always be Italiano. The interior is larger than it looks from the outside and the walls are painted with colourful villa scenes, adding up to a busy and warm atmosphere - and it's a great place for families too as the staff are good with children. On your way to the restroom, check out the kitchen - it's clean and bright and bodes well for what goes on inside.

I last headed down there for a birthday celebration. We arrived early hoping to land a batch of whitebait as this special always goes quickly, but nothing doing that day. Villaggio keeps a set menu which has barely changed for the 5 years I've been a regular. There is the standard pasta and meat dish selection, all of it excellent and good value with starters between 3-6 and mains around 7-14. There is also a daily specials menu for more seasonal or regional choices.

I tend to order from the specials menu, and on this occasion went for bresaola starter followed by venison cooked in Barolo with lentils. This can be quite a heavy combination, but the starter was light and had delicate flavour whilst the venison was richly sauced, savoury and delicious. The side vegetables were, as usual, cooked to tasty, al dente perfection. My partner had a combination of scallops starter (as good as the best of anywhere else I've eaten) with an ultra-creamy ravioli dish to follow. Past glories which stay in my mind and keep me going back are the italian-style gazpacho, buttery lemon chicken, melting shanks of pork and lamb and braised rabbit.

Once we've downed a bottle of red wine we never usually have the capacity for pudding, so two courses, bread, drinks and service normally hit about 40-45 for two. A couple of cocktails can push it over the 50 mark, but even this is modest by today's standards and for sheer quality it beats the local competition handsdown.

Best of all, Villaggio seems to be completely family run and, if so, it's one heck of an extended family. The service is mature and good-natured in that pleasing, traditionally continental way. You might spot a '70s haircut or two amongst the senior staff members. Sitting in the midst of fake authenticity (Dome, Rouge, Pasta, Express) and chain chic (Est Est Est), Villagio Italiano stands out as an honest restaurant where they serve up lovingly-cooked and really quite elegant food. I don't know how authentic this food actually is, but frankly when it's this good who cares?

Gill Stewart
6th August 2001



Eatanddrink Ratings

Villaggio Italiano

Total Score: 75%
Quality: Good
Service: Good
Facilities: Average
Ambience: Average
Value: Good


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Fish & Seafood
Meat, Poultry & Game
Wines & Spirits
Beers & Lagers
Tea & Coffee
Cheese & Dairy
Herbs, Spices, Aromatics & Colourings
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