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For lovers of modern art and Italian cuisine, Villa di Geggiano restaurant in Chiswick is a unique upscale venue. Following the principle of creativity of the Bandinelli family who own the National Heritage site of the same name in Tuscany, Villa di Geggiano offers Italian fine dining Italian, Tuscan organic wine, and a space to curate and exhibit contemporary art.
The entrance to Villa di Geggiano, with guests currently welcomed by an elephant sculpture, is via the terrace with its own grape vines (presumably for show given the quantity, terroir and climate of London). Whilst there are some warmer evenings, this space is ideal for an early mid-week supper. Else inside there is a main restaurant space, 2 private dining areas (for larger groups), and a lounge brimming with artwork and sculptures as a space for any pre-dinner drinks from the bar.
Before diving into the delights of the five course tasting menu we chose, let’s first discuss service, and how it’s done properly. Originally seated on the partly covered terrace, it began to rain, so guests sat under the not-fully-umbrella-ed tables including ourselves were in turn moved inside, where new tables were efficiently being set up. Service resumed, with the next course and wine pairings arriving almost immediately as we sat down – a smoother guest experience there could not have been. However much chaos a change in weather may have caused behind the scenes, this did not impact the dining experience at all.
For the menu choice, we chose a five course tasting menu with wine pairings; however there is an a la carte following the more traditional Italian routine of starter, first course of pasta, second course of meat or fish, and dessert.
Outdoors, on the terrace, we started with a Buratta and creamed courgette soup (Burrata con Crema di Zucchine e Menta) paired with an rare-blend, and reasonable entry level Bandinello IGT Toscana (2017) wine.
Moving inside, the next course was pickled mackerel with baby vegetables (Sgombro in Carpione con Sottaceti e Maionese). For our tastebuds, the pickling was done to an extreme masking the mayonnaise and subtle flavours of the vegetables.
Next on the tasting menu was the duck and mascarpone ravioli with an orange reduction (Ravioli all’Anatra con Salsa all’Arancia), which was richly divine. The orange reduction reminiscent of familiar French duck-à-l’orange, with a light gravy. There were only two, albeit large ravioli – three would not have been a crowd. The pasta was paired with our favourite chianti of the evening (Villa di Geggiano Chianti Classico 2015).
Simplicity is something Italians do well, showcasing the best products without too much interference, and the lamb cutlets with a tomato salad (Cotolette di Agnello) were a prime example of these. Asking for our lamb well done, the meat was delicious against a salad with light vinaigrette. With this we tried a more complex Chianti from the Tuscan villa (Classico Reserve DOCG 2009).
To finish, rather than a full dessert (the four earlier courses having taken their toll), we had a plate of Tuscan almond biscotti and a sweet dessert wine (Capezzana). The chef bakes batches several times a week, so these are always fresh, and being double baked means dipping the biscuit to soak the sweet alcohol, the biscotti loses none of its structural integrity. Much more satisfying than dipping a rich tea into a cup of tea!
This writer is not as easily impressed as his writing may suggest, and serendipitously this visit to Villa di Geggiano coincided with his second passion: modern art. Imagine a pirate discovering a trove of treasure; however in this case the bounty is an exhibition of contemporary art from the likes of Roberty Fry, Zoobs, Moussa Sanogo, Ian Edwards, Nic Parnell, and Paul Khera. It is a near unique experience to be able to dine admiring well-known pieces, which I am informed, rotate every couple of months as new works are exhibited.
Currently on display are some of the red series from Robert Fry, works by Zoobs who remixes celebrity portraits with splashes of colour to mask and reveal the subject, and most visibly (as they are scattered throughout the restaurant) pieces from the ‘Outside In’ range by Nic Parnell – furniture based on reclaimed wood with an up-cycled finish.
Other artists with works on display include Moussa Sanogo, Ian Edwards, Agata Di Masternak, Andrew Chisholm, and Paul Khera.
Villa di Geggiano has the support of many Royal Academy and Tate Modern patrons, and plays host to regular gatherings and exhibitions. The restaurant’s exhibition program is dedicated to supporting contemporary and emerging artists, offering a diverse array of thematic and aesthetic concepts, highlighting an exciting approach to contemporary art that is both progressive and thought-provoking.
I cannot stress enough the wow factor that fans will experience of the collections modern art on exhibition at Villa di Geggiano. This venue is recommended for anyone who enjoys spending time in galleries, or if you want to impress a date who is a fan of modern art.
By way of critique of the food, the only advice is to avoid the pickled fish, which suggests there remains substantial skill and expertise in the chef. And as already mentioned, the cosy atmosphere and seamless front-of-house service meant ease and relaxation for the duration of our meal.
Expect to pay for the excellent food, wine and service though, with a meal including a couple of glasses of wine costing from circa £75 per person. And do ask if anyone is available to give a short tour of the venue, Villa di Geggiano hides history and plenty of anecdotal quirks.
Villa di Geggiano is located at 66-68 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 1SY.
For more information, or to book, visit villadigeggiano.co.uk.