So I’ve lived in my little village for almost a year in a half now and I’ve been to every pub in the area and had a couple of drunken Indian takeaways but I’ve never been to any of the restaurants here(I say any, there are only 2). So a few weeks ago me and my friend/colleague Emma decided to book a table at Valentino’s which is a local Italian restaurant that everyone raves about.
We booked a table for two on a Friday night of the pay day weekend(what better way to spend your hard earned money than to try a new place to eat). We knew straight away that it would be busy as they gave us a two hour slot for our booking, no more no less.
Valentino’s is based at the bottom of the village, 2 minutes away from the quay, on a first floor of a tiny old house(probably one of the first builds of the village). As soon I walked through the door I thought ”cosy”. Restaurant sits about 20 people, there are 3 people managing the shift(2 of which are owners) and 1 chef running a tiny sized kitchen.
Restaurant has no frills decor with a lot of posters/paintings and various artwork. All themed around Italy and Italian dining, restaurant is also known for their chicken jugs(used to serve house wine). There must be at least 50 jugs displayed around the restaurant just for decor and another 20 being used for service. Restaurant was very busy with a big table at the front and every table being used in the second room. Crowd was very varied-there was a loved up couple, a family outing, a table of young women celebrating Friday and payday and what we assumed was a big birthday celebration at the front.
Me and Emma got seated right in the middle of the second ”room” next to the counter and not far from the kitchen, so pretty much at the heart of all of it. As soon as we sat down we were given menus and wine lists and owner asked us if we’ve been here before. Once we said that it’s our first time he gave all ins and outs of the menu as well advised us on portion sizes. He started his explanation with a long discussion about garlic bread. GARLIC BREAD. Before we went to Valentiono’s, I’ve tried to look up reviews on TripAdvisor and suss out some information-every single review raved about garlic bread. Come on, garlic bread? Honestly, it turned out to be THE best garlic bread both of us have ever had. Home made bun-fluffy and warm on the inside with a crisp layer on the outside cut in half with a very generous sized chunk of butter in the middle, filled with fresh garlic and herbs. Your bread ends up soaked in this deliciousness and honestly, I wouldn’t even look at store bough garlic bread now.
We were advised to share a portion of bread, but we couldn’t resist not having another starter to share so we went for deep fried stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed with ham, cheese and peppers. Absolutely delicious and I could definitely do with having that portion all to myself.
Picking our main was the hardest tasks, their mains menu is broken down into 3 sections-meat/vegetable based dishes, pizzas and pastas. I knew I didn’t want a pizza and I knew I didn’t want meat dish so I needed to pick a pasta dish. All pasta dishes come in two sizes-starter and main, which is fantastic for those with smaller appetites or saving space for dessert. Both me and Emma went for lasagnas in starter size and they didn’t disappoint. Tender pasta, covered in delicious rich tomatoes and succulent cheese. Every bite of it melted in my mouth, it was the best meal of the week. Did we top it off with some fresh grated parmesan? Yes, we did!
Thanks to well-thought through portion sizes we had space for dessert(which hardly ever happens). Dessert menu was read out to us(as I assume it changes daily based on what products are available) and we were given a choice of chocolate pots, sticky toffee puddings or a selection of home made ice creams(I think there were around 10 flavours on offer). We both went for chocolate pots as the couple next to us were having them and they looked heavenly.
The taste didn’t disappoint. Think of a chocolate mousse that is somewhere between a mousse, souffle and ganache. Very rich, very flavoursome and very filling. Emma admitted the defeat and left about half of her portion but I powered through.
My meal was accompanied by half a litre of house Malbec which was too easy to drink and you hardly ever see places using Malbec as their house wine. It was served in one of their chicken jugs and lasted me whole three courses, by the time we were leaving the restaurant I felt very merry.
Our bill came to £48 for two, which I thought wasn’t bad for three courses and wine. We left a tip as the service was wonderful and we were really made feel welcome. Before we left I booked a table for me and Pete for the following week, so safe to say I loved it at Valentino’s.
If you ever happen to be in Colchester or Wivenhoe then definitely visit Valentino’s. Bookings are essential and they are open Tuesday-Saturday. Unfortunately, there is no website but they do have a Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/valentinoswivenhoe/).