Chiswick dweller Lucy Shaw heads to Villa di Geggiano on the High Road for heavenly burrata, creamy cacio e pepe and an intriguing Tuscan rosé.
The concept: A Tuscan villa is not something you’d expect to find on Chiswick High Road. Villa di Geggiano’s owners, the Bianchi Bandinelli family, have faithfully recreated their sprawling Tuscan estate on Chiswick’s busiest street, down to the green shutters and gated entrance.
The original villa has been in the hands of the Bianchi Bandinelli family, who count Pope Alexander II among their direct descendants, since 1527, and boasts a private chapel and landscaped garden.
On the warm late summer evening we visited its reincarnation in Chiswick, while enjoying an apéritif in the foliage filled courtyard, it almost felt like we’d been transported to Tuscany, save for the sound of cars zooming down the High Road.
The décor: Paying homage to the villa’s abundance of 19th century furniture, the dining room is dotted with antique chairs and chests of drawers.
There’s a touch of the surreal about the place – a giant turquoise tree sprouts in the centre of the room, its spindly branches reaching skywards, while colourful glass light fixtures tip their hat to the Venetian island of Murano.
Black-and-white is used both in the tiled floor and a series of paparazzi-style shots framing the open kitchen. Completing the restaurant’s eccentric look are teal felt stags heads and Jackson Pollock-inspired artworks.
The food: The menu is a love letter to Italy and features classic Tuscan dishes like wild boar pappardelle and tagliatelle with Tuscan sausage. Many of the ingredients are sourced from farms close to the Bianchi Bandinelli’s Tuscan estate, while the olive oil is made from the olive trees on its grounds.
The offering is concise. Divided up the Italian way into ‘antipasti’, ‘primi’, ‘secondi’ and ‘dolci’, among the standout dishes was my burrata starter.
The creamy globe arrived floating in a pool of cooling mint and courgette ‘sauce’, which was so plentiful it was more like a chilled soup. The burrata was bang on; impossibly creamy, perfectly seasoned, and given welcome crunch by the croutons.
Lovers of rich dishes should try the bruschetta loaded with creamy chicken liver parfait drizzled with a tooth-tinglingly sweet Vin Santo reduction.
Many of the dishes were on the sweet side. Hopes were high for the duck and mascarpone ravioli in an orange reduction but the ensemble was overwhelmingly sweet to the point of being cloying.
Signature dishes: The star of the show at Villa di Geggiano is the pici cacio e pepe pasta, a Roman dish made famous in London at pasta palace Padella. I ordered a taster portion and immediately wished I’d gone the whole hog.
The silky strands of pasta glistened with peppery, Peccorino-laced sauce, the bite of the pepper balancing out the richness of the cheese in a divine union.
The drinks: As you might expect, the wine list shines a light on Tuscany and includes eight wines made at Villa di Geggiano, which has nurtured vines since the 18th century and began exporting its wares to the UK as early as 1725.
In addition to its own wines, the list includes drops from small organic and biodynamic producers across Italy, taking in Sicily, Piedmont, Umbira, Campania, Friuli and beyond.
The Bianchi Bandinelli family owns 50 acres of vines in Chianti Classico, and produces both Chianti Classico and a number of IGT wines, including a rosé made from Sangiovese.
Among the wine highlights was a glass of Villia de Geggiano Chianti Classico 2015, whose peppery notes complemented the cacio e pepe, and a skin contact rosé, which was tangy, pleasingly tannic and a lot more interesting than most rosés on the market.
Who to know: General manager Lukasz Borowski will guide you through the estate’s wines and might even give you a tour of the cellar.
Don’t leave without: Taking a moment to explore the restaurant’s quirky interiors and collection of original artworks.
Last word: With so many restaurants to choose from in London, Villa di Geggiano is unlikely to attract diners living in the far north, south or east of the city, but it remains a neighbourhood gem for west Londoners.
The service on our visit erred on the obsequious side, but seemed to befit the restaurant’s old school charm. For those seeking a slice of sunny Tuscany during the dark winter months, Geggiano offers a welcome respite from chaotic city life.
Villa di Geggiano, 66-68 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1SY; Tel: +44 (0)20 3384 9442