Does Isola del Sole bring the Italian island to Putney? Steph Siegle finds out
Wednesday night at 8pm and Isola del Sole, just off Putney High Street, is buzzing. Stepping into the cosy restaurant from the chilly evening is a timely shot of warmth – not just in the temperature but also in the welcome we receive from the maître d’ and his team, and from the appreciated glass of prosecco.
This is a return visit to this restaurant for my guest and I, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether the menu has remained true to its original influences of Sardinia, as well as the chance to enjoy the elegant, yet comfortable, surroundings. Having never visited Sardinia, it’s lovely to find out that the staff we chat to all hail from that sunshine island, which assures us they have real insight into the dishes when we ask questions about the menu. Owners of the business, Massimo and Susanna, grew up in north and south Italy respectively so influence from those regions of the country are evident in the dishes too.
What I truly love about this restaurant is its commitment to using simple, flavoursome and the freshest possible ingredients. One of the best ways to experience the taste of Sardinia on a plate is starting the meal with the antipasto Sardo. Succulent Sardinian sausage, coppa, guanciale, olives and pecorino cheese are served on a deliciously crispy traditional carasau bread. You have all the Sardinian flavours but as it’s a light starter, you can look forward to the mains without feeling you’ve overdone it.
My dinner guest opted for the homemade ravioli of the day, beautifully large portions of the pasta, while I chose the tagliatelle gamberi. Meaty, juicy prawns cooked in garlic and chilli lay on a bed of the freshest pasta I’ve ever eaten. And it’s not surprising, considering all the restaurant’s pasta is made on site every day; you could eat it purely by itself. We were recommended a lovely bottle of Sardinian red wine to accompany the meal, being told it hailed from the Argiolas vineyard, one that has been operating since the early 1900s and now run by the third Argiolas generation. This well-balanced wine paired excellently with the food.
Of course, there’s always room for tiramisu, and the one here is as velvety as it is creamy. This was a welcome return to Isola del Sole and, when a restaurant inspires you to visit the place its dishes are influenced by, you know they’ve got the menu spot on.
Isola del Sole, 16 Lacy Road, Putney, SW15 1NL. www.isoladelsole.co.uk