This Italian restaurant manages to retain a cosy, local atmosphere amid the hustle and bustle of London's Putney. Amanda Afiya reports.
Inside Enoteca Turi you could be forgiven for thinking that you're in a cosy neighbourhood restaurant on the quiet side of town. The walls ooze warmth, with their burnt terracotta tones, and the service has the pleasantries of a cosy local Italian. However, the smart attire of the staff and the crisp, white tablecloths suggest this place means business and when you do glance out of the window, the constant passers-by remind you that you are in fact just a stone's throw from London's Putney Bridge, on Putney High Street.
Enoteca Turi's location, though, has proved to be a blessing for its owners Giuseppe and Pamela Turi, who opened the 85-seat restaurant 20 years ago.
"When we first opened, in the middle of the last recession, the high street had some struggling restaurants and many shops had closed down or had become short-term bric-a-brac or charity outlets," says Giuseppe, who came to England from his native Puglia in 1982 and enjoyed a career as a sommelier and restaurant manager at the Connaught and Athenaeum hotels before opening Enoteca Turi.
"Now it's a buzzy high street with a considerable number of smart chain restaurants as well as high-end fashion outlets."
Front of house is managed ably by Katiuscia Giacon, who has been with the Turis for five years, and the kitchen is run by head chef Massimo Tagliaferri, who joined Enoteca just over a year ago. His career includes periods with Alberico Penati at Harry's Bar, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, Floriana, Sartoria and Drones.
Typically for an Italian restaurant, the menu is broken down into antipasti, pasta/risotto, secondi piatti and desserts. Among the most popular pasta courses is pappardelle all'aretina con ragù d'anatra (£10.50) - pappardelle with duck ragoût - which is made from duck leg meat, slowly braised with celery, onion, leek, carrot, rosemary, thyme, sage and red wine for an hour and half and then blended with a simple tomato sauce.
Main courses, meanwhile, include fegato di vitello con bieta, cipolle arrosto ripiene di zucca (£19.50) - calves' liver with Swiss chard, roasted onion filled with pumpkin, fruit mustard and amaretti, and balsamic vinegar sauce - and scaloppini di vitello con funghi di bosco, cipolline e patate ratte (£20.50) - veal escalope with girolle mushrooms, baby onions and ratte potato.
All desserts cost £6.75 and include the classic tiramisu. However, Tagliaferri gives it a luxurious twist by blending gianduia (chocolate and hazelnut paste) into the mascarpone mixture, which is layered on sponge fingers dipped in double espresso coffee and Tia Maria.
Other desserts include torta di polenta e arancia con crema al gianduia - ricotta pudding with mixed summer berries - and tortino di yogurt e formaggio con mango e frutta della passione - yogurt cheesecake with mango and passion fruit.
Wine is a big thing at Enoteca and the restaurant has not been overlooked for its interest. Awards include the 2009 Drinking Out Excellence Awards Italian Wine Restaurant of the Year, 2005 ITV Restaurant Awards Most Exceptional Wine List and 2001 Harpers magazine Perfect Wine List.
"Italian wines are a minefield for most customers - even the wine connoisseur - but our customers enjoy good wines, know what they like, and like to be guided to their preferred style by us," Giuseppe says.
The wine list has detailed notes to help customers choose, and wines by the glass or carafes are suggested with every dish, such as a lovely Barbera d'Alba Trevigne DOC 2005 (£10/glass, £20/carafe or £38.50/bottle), which, incidentally, goes beautifully with the pappardelle and duck ragout.
Enoteca Turi, 28 Putney High Street, London SW15 1SQ
Tel: 020 8785 4449
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