The family-run business is dedicated to sourcing the best Italian produce – from cured meats and cheeses to a wide range of Italian wines and pantry ingredients. It is also known for stylish gifts, and elegant ‘entertainment platters,’ which are designed to help customers host fuss-free evenings. The stunning cheeseboards, and hand-sliced charcuterie platters are perfect for any event – from intimate dinner parties, to wine tastings or buffets.
Vallebona was founded in 1890 by Agostino Vallebona, the great grandfather of the current owner Stefano Vallebona. In 1998 Stefano was the only Italian selling in Borough market. Now in 2016 the company sells to many leading clients, and has a beautiful retail shop in Wimbledon with a walk in cheese room.
We have exactly the same philosophy as when we started out. The highest quality ingredients, sourced from family business suppliers who are very proud of their produce. The relationship I have with all my producers is exceptional, we have a mutual respect for each other.
It is these two things have changed my approach to sourcing food for my family and my customers. When I set up my food business in 1997 I started selecting items for a few really talented chefs, as if I was putting together a dinner party for some friends, it is from this I started my own range.
I was the first Italian to trade in Borough market. It had a lovely local feeling until the 2000 economy boom! People’s eating and drinking habits changed. They were spending more. Italian food wasn’t just pizza, pasta and cappucino. We were already at the top end of the market, but competition was new to us.
It was around 2003. We were invited to show our produce at a stinking rich private house. The weather was horrible, we didn’t make any sales, we had to hire a van and pay for staff. It was a very disappointing and unwelcoming event, and we just thought, we can’t do this anymore. On the drive back we had an idea to open our doors once a month, which then became weekly, and now daily. Revenge is sweet, but we will never forget how it all started.
Stefano and his beautiful wife Naoko Vallebona are the heart and passion behind Vallebona.
Stefano – I am the second of 4 brothers. My mother has always been obsessed with feeding us the best produce she could find. When I was 4 or 5, I was bigger than my older brother Andrea, so I started helping my mother with the shopping. We would buy our fruit and veg from people’s houses, they had organic plots in their back yard and would sell some on a very small scale. Same with the fish, we would knock on the fisherman’s door. She taught me to buy super high quality produce at a fraction of the shop price.
In the summer I’d spend one month in Genoa with my grandmother Amalia, and she would tell me really interesting stories about my Grandfather Edigio (my dad’s dad) travelling by horse-back or walking for days to reach cheesemakers and producers around Nuoro and Sassari in Sardinia. He was a very successful businessman, and used to trade exclusive ingredients like bottarga, cheese and oils. He used to meet his producers every year to bring them money to finance their campaign, in return he would get back Pecorino cheese which he would trade to Rome, Puglia, Spain and France via his on fleet of sailing vessels.
Naoko – I originally dreamed of being a garden designer, but when I met Stefano I was working in an Interior design studio in Camden. I recognised he was quite unusual, not just an Italian selling salame. He had great qualities and passion, and I could tell he had a lot more to offer. I started to help once or twice a week, then it became a permanent thing. I realized I could transfer my skills into a food environment. In 2003 we got married and I became a business partner.
Our mission is to bring speciality Italian Gourmet to British restaurants, cafes, and most importantly to you at home, with unrivalled service and delivery. We are hoping to evoke a little of the passion and pride we have in the wonderful food and people we work with, and help integrate our extraordinary products into healthy modern British cuisine and home cooking.
GRAZING TABLE FOR EVENTS – The grazing table comes from our concept of Table@Vallebona, which as a metaphor is set out to find a mechanism to collect the collaborative and diverse voices and stories that are told around a kitchen table. There are so many great stories to be shared. The metaphor means it can be any table. Anywhere…Our grazing table is will completely transform your event as an osteria-style centrepiece. This is an unforgettable roman feast that looks incredible. The ingredients are seasonal and hand-picked from small family farmers all over Italy, and impeccably styled in a cool contemporary display.
EXPERIENCE AT YOUR OFFICE OR AT HOME – Here at Vallebona we are passionate about entertaining. Stefano, being Italian has hospitality in his DNA, and Naoko being Japanese has incredible attention to detail. Together they are experts in creating incredible experiences with their passion for great quality honest food and impeccable presentation. We source unique produce of the highest quality to create a cool, contemporary grazing table for your office event, a wedding or birthday and can arrange a wine tasting alongside.
SALUMI & CHEESE BAR FOR HIRE – The cheese and salumi bar brings you the very best in Italian charcuterie and Italian cheese – in a really cool way! Ready and set to pop up at your event, with a state of the art slicer and some incredible artisan ingredients. The bar can be educational, elegant and fun! We have been touring showrooms, weddings and wine tastings, no two events have ever been the same. From hanging legs of ham, to whole scooped parmesan the options are endless. Our ingredients are simple, so we can tailor our bar to suit your event.
PARTIES AT VALLEBONA – Our warehouse is a hidden gem nestled in a secluded industrial estate next to Wimbledon village. The candlelit room is complete with white wash walls, double height ceilings and hanging chandeliers. Whether you are looking for an exquisite seated dinner complete with private chef or a drinks party and roman-style banquet we can create a completely bespoke, tailor made service for your event. Our Japanese attention to detail is in keeping with the beautiful contemporary surroundings, and there is a deli-shop to nourish your retail therapy.
Those who want to ‘try before they buy’ are welcome to browse the deli based in the Wimbledon warehouse. It’s also the location for our regular Saturday morning tastings, showcase lunches and scheduled pop-up events.