Girasole is a trattoria/pizzeria situated on one of the quieter stretches of Garratt Lane. You might know where I mean, about half way down from Earlsfield station to the mega Sainsbury’s in Wandsworth town, in that parade of shops on the other side of the street but not quite so far down as the Old Sergeant. Got it now? Good.
This is a part of Wandsworth/Earlsfield which is undergoing a significant amount of gentrification, the Jolly Gardeners is now a successful gastro pub with a strong following. There’s soon to be a new Lebanese restaurant and even the Grosvenor has had a lick of paint, though the Ultimate Rugby Fan (URF,) still refuses to cross over the threshold, I’ve been told it has a lovely garden.
At about 4 years old in its present incarnation, Girasole is a bit of an old stager for the vicinity and in order to be as honest with you as possible a bit of a favourite of mine. I have been visiting Girasole on and off since it first opened and have always been impressed with the food and the service.
The evening that we decided to visit, I met with the URF at the Wandle near Earlsfield station. As I have written previously I’m pretty ambivalent about the Wandle. The food is in my experience overpriced and undertaste, the interior is rather barn like, but it does have a great garden. Future generations will be able to date this review pretty accurately because the other advantage the Wandle has is that it’s a Pokestop.
Yes both me and the URF were playing Pokemon go. Well the URF was playing, close on mastering, whilst I was more dabbling. Whereas she was getting up to about level a zillion and capturing things that looked like something out of ‘Masters of the Universe,’ I was struggling to get out of single figures and had collected a fine number of wild pidgey’s. We had just the one drink and then made our way by bus to dinner.
I like the interior of Girasole, it’s painted in the same shade of yellow as a sunflower, which is apparently what Girasole means in English. This makes it feel warmer in winter and more summery in summer. My one criticism is that the tables are rather small and close together. This obviously means that they can get more covers in, but does lead to a slight empathy with sardines if the restaurant is busy.
The menu at Girasole is now quite compact, offering a small range of starters, pizza, pastas and other mains. From memory it was once rather more ambitious and ran over more than the two pages it does now. For me simplicity is great and though less comprehensive than previously there was still plenty for me to choose from, not so the URF however who is perhaps the world’s greatest aficionado of the Carbonara and asked if they could whisk one up for her. Having made sure they had the correct ingredients they were happy to acquiesce.
I started with a crab and avocado special. This turned out to be a generous portion of fresh crab served on a bed of pureed avocado with salad. The crab was good and tasty, though not stand out unfortunately, but good value for about £7.50. The URF had the porchetta, a cold, savoury serving of roast pork. I tried some and it was delicious.
The starters were helped down by a few swigs of Grillo, a light Sicilian wine that came from the middle levels of the wine list. Though we didn’t have them on this occasion, there is a good selection of aperitifs including the now obligatory Aperol spritz, but also Campari, so redolent of Mediterranean holidays you can almost taste it when just looking at the travel brochures.
For the main course I had the veal ravioli which was I have to say great. Freshly baked, the pasta, filling and sauce all were delicious. The serving seemed slightly small at first, but then I struggled to finish it and perhaps didn’t need the side salad I’d ordered to go with it.
The URF’s Carbonara was very different to the one she enjoyed recently at Bueno Sera. Eggy rather than creamy, it had a raw salty kick that I liked. Using pancetta rather than bacon the proprietor claimed that this was as close to the original Carbonara as you could get. She liked both of them equally, two very different riffs on a classic melody if you like.
For afters I couldn’t decide between pudding and coffee and ended up actually going for an affogato, a drop of ice cream in espresso, which I really liked. The URF just had the espresso which this being a true Italian trattoria was of course good.
Though we didn’t have one that night, I have frequently enjoyed the pizzas at Girasole. The Delightful Dining Companion (DDC,) was so taken with them she eventually invented one of her own. About the same price as for the competing product from Pizza Hut across the road, these are I think some of the better value bespoke pizzas to be found in South West London.
One thing I do have to pull Girasole down on though are the gent’s toilets. The urinal has now been out of order for about two years, indeed I’m not sure if it’s ever worked. Please get this fixed as it’s been going on too long.
The bill when it arrived was for about £67 excluding service. This included two courses each and a pudding for me. A bottle of wine and a coffee. This is I think about right for a neighbourhood restaurant, yes it’s more, much more than cooking at home, more than Pizza Express, but I think worth it for the quality of the food, ambience and service.
The night we went it was unusally quiet, but I’m not the only one to love Girasole so booking generally is advised. To end the evening we repaired across the road to the Old Sergeant one of the few survivors of Garratt Lane past, though this too is now a Pokestop. Would I recommend Girasole, of course, it’s great, I tend to write about the places I like, but if you like good Italian food, give it a try, and I think you’ll like it.