It is a mournful state of affairs that unless you live in Bruntsfield, Newington or deepest Stockbridge, you are much more than a stone’s throw from the nearest Peckham’s. Fortunately, Elm Row is home to an impressive deli in the heart of Leith Walk’s strongly Italian area: Valvona & Crolla.
As embarrassing as it is to publicly confess a love of free samples, Valvona & Crolla are certainly generous – I was delighted to try some of their Parmesan and olive oil during a visit! Simple ingredients, one might say, but the cheese inspired a moment of pleasurable silence, and as for the olive oil, it receives the rarely-bestowed honour of “foodgasmic”. Maybe there are some oil enthusiasts out there, but it’s the first time I have ever raved about the deliciousness of something as basic as oil.
Some of the stock may be quite predictable: pasta, wines, cheeses, desserts, cold cuts, et cetera. However, it is the quality and unbelievable range that is astonishing: the store is massive, and has shelf upon shelf of food stacked to the ceiling – a majestically high ceiling at that! The majority of things up for perusal are from Italy, the motherland of such goodness, so V & C definitely wins points for authenticity. What is more, I was particularly taken by the chocolate selection. It is pricier than one might expect, but with good reason.
The décor is quite rich and unpretentious, with an abundance of dark polished wood and dim lighting. The main focus is the food, and there’s little to distract from it. Sadly, this does mean that the atmosphere feels a little heavy at times, weighted with declarations of “denominazione di origine controllata” and the dense perfume of prosciutto. Thankfully, there is a café adjoined to the back of the deli, contrastingly light and airy in comparison to the den-like room which precedes it. The food served is as yet unexplored territory, but it would be a great place for a post-deli-binge.
19 Elm Row