Lots of restaurants promise to transport you to Italy, but Villa di Geggiano makes a more convincing case than most. The jolly white and green exterior is a dead ringer for the namesake 15th-century palazzo and wine estate near Siena while, in summer, there’s outside seating under the vines in the spacious courtyard – Chianti transplanted to Chiswick.
The surprises continue inside, where the owners’ connections with the London art world have made for an eclectic interior that mixes contemporary works with antique pieces from the palazzo. The eccentric sense of character is picked up by chatty staff who seem completely at home in the one-of-a-kind surrounds.
The owners’ other connection is the wine world; the family of co-founder Count Andrea Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli owns Villa di Geggiano in Tuscany and were the first people to import Chianti to Great Britain in 1752. The estate’s wines can be sampled in a comfortable lounge bar that is one of Chiswick’s hidden gems, while the Count himself hosts wine tastings once a month.
Pasta was the highlight of the menu for us. Gnocchi with asparagus sauce, radicchio and walnuts, and pappardelle with Tuscan wild boar, both delivered intense flavours and satisfying textures. Starters of burrata with grilled asparagus and balsamic reduction, and bresaola with sweet and sour shimeji mushrooms, taggiasca olives and rocket pesto, were both beautifully presented, while tiramisu pleasingly majored more on sugar than coffee.
Only our main courses seemed a tad disappointing; duck breast with Savoy cabbage, bacon and cranberries, and lamb cutlets with sweet and sour red cabbage and pea sauce, were both a shade tough.
Still, you could eat very well here by ordering a pasta as a main course, and in any case, this is very much a restaurant that is all about the overall experience. Excellent pasta washed down with fine wine, served by welcoming staff in convivial surrounds: what could be more Italian?