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First look inside new restaurant Knowledge as it transforms 300-year-old Sunderland pub

A new restaurant is hoping to make the most of one of Sunderland’s oldest pubs.

Thursday, 17th March 2022, 4:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2022, 4:51 pm

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Dating back to 1724, the Boar’s Head in the East End was once a popular watering hole for sailors and workers at the nearby port.

Over the centuries, from its prime site overlooking the River Wear, it’s bore witness to the changing face of Sunderland.

After a decade closed, it received Heritage Lottery funding and significant improvement works in 2017 and was given new life as the Boar’s Head bistro, with accommodation upstairs.

Knowledge restaurant has opened on the ground floor of The Boar's Head in the East End

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Most recently, the downstairs restaurant operated as Volare until the pandemic hit, but now new lease holders Davide De Vivo and Michele De Martino have transformed the site into new restaurant, Knowledge, which will be open from March 17.

They’ve spent the past two months putting their stamp on the place with a contemporary blue and yellow colour scheme, neon signs and feature walls.

Between them they have decades of experience in the hospitality industry, working in the Amalfi Coast, as well as Sunderland venues Angelo’s and Langham Tower.

Mixologist Davide says it’s exciting for them to finally be opening their own venture.

First look around the new Knowledge restaurant. From left, business partners Michele De Martino and Davide De Vivo.

"I’ve worked in hospitality since I was 14, and Michele also has years of experience. He was a chef a Angelo’s for seven years,” he said. “We’ve wanted to do our own thing for a while and this location is amazing on the river.”

Speaking about the name of the restaurant, Davide said: “We’ve called it that because we know what we’re doing and we want to share that knowledge with our customers. We don’t want to just serve them their food and walk away, we want to talk to them about the food and drink and share our experience.”

The restaurant specialises in South Italian street food such as square pizzas, with a range of white base options as well as tomato bases, made with a 36-hour proof dough; handmade burgers, antipasti, meatballs and more.

Michele said: “Everything is made fresh and we really want to put our stamp on the place.”

Mixologist and co-owner Davide De Vivo prepares a cocktail

The 60-cover bar and restaurant has created six new jobs, with more expected in the summer. The terrace, which has uninterrupted views along the river, will open from May and people will be able to enjoy bar snacks, as well as drinks, on the terrace.

It’s the latest investment at this end of the city, with Pop Recs and the Sunshine Co-operative recently opening their doors at the bottom end of High Street West.

In the coming weeks, 1719 will open in the old Holy Trinity Church, once at the heart of Old Sunderland, after a major £4.3million restoration project to turn it into an events and arts space.

Sunderland’s oldest pub is thought to be The Clarendon, dating back to 1753 in licence records, but with a building on the site since 1724. The nearby Boar’s Head, which also operated as The Boar’s Head Hotel, is thought to have opened soon after, making it the second oldest pub in the city.

Knowledge will be open six days a week for food and drinks

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People can also visit for drinks at the bar
The pub is one of the oldest in Sunderland and has been serving drinks for 300 years
The terrace has one of the best views in the city
The restaurant has around 60 covers
The historic site has been given a new look
Chef and part owner Michele De Martino preparing a dish