Tarantella Dances into Town
Good Italian food without a song and a dance
Ever on the edge of breaking news, ChiswickW4 could hardly wait to try out the new Italian restaurant La Tarantella. Located on the old That’s Amore site, La Tarantella remains looks-wise very similar to the old restaurant with the tables divided over the two floors and the front section of the kitchen open to view. But there has been a complete change of ownership - Domenico from Calabria, Franceso from Naples and Giuseppe from Puglia - and staff, accompanied by an entirely new menu.
We visited incognito, as usual, and had one of the three new owners waiting on our table who was incredibly charming and knowledgeable. He even promised us a Tarantella dance if we provided suitable music. (We couldn’t.)
He was able to assure us that the previous owners - the popular Fabio and Massimo - had happily moved onto new careers. One is now running a restaurant in Spain and the other is enjoying his retirement funded by the sale of the restaurant.
However, back to the new boys on the block. In true Italian style, the menu comprises antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti and pizze. In true English style we decided to forego a multi-course meal and just have a single dish each.
I had the Branzino (£15.95) which was a whole sea bass cooked with clams, mussels and fresh tomatoes. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked and the shellfish and tomato sauce delicious and, as the office was only too quick to tell me on my return, very garlicky. My first companion chose the Tarantella pizza (£10.95). After watching the chef assemble the pizza with mozzarella, porcini, and straccino cheese, quickly bake it in an inferno-type oven and top it with rocket, we could barely wait to try it. It lived up to the build up and was declared delicious. My other companion had Rigatoni Gemelli (£8.20) – pasta with an aubergine, ricotta, garlic and tomato sauce. Although she was slightly disappointed the pasta was dried rather than fresh, she declared herself satisfied with the dish and that it had fulfilled her need for a large portion of carbohydrate before embarking on a lengthy charity trek. We had a bottle Merlot to drink and some great espressos to wrap up with.
Chiswick's newest restaurant still has work to do on the decor and gave the impression that they hadn't quite fully moved in. The price for three including 10% service came to over £60. This wasn't unreasonable but in the context of a hyper-competitive lunch market around Chiswick High Road equally good meals could be had for much less. As we were just about the only customers we had the undivided attention of our host so it remains to be seen how they would cope with a full house but the most important thing we learnt about Tarantella was that they know their food.
Caroline Villiers30 March 2007