A new Italian restaurant is hoping to hit the ground running by being named as the best in the business.
Owners Federico Trulli and Nello Russo have spent the past six weeks transforming the former Old Ships Inn in East Rainton into Angelo’s Trattoria, building on the success of their original Angelo’s in Sunderland city centre.
Almost £40,000 has been ploughed into the venture to create a traditional Italian rustic restaurant to replace the previous nautical theme at the Durham Road site.
Not only do they bring with them years of experience in the trade, Nello was last year named Best Chef in the national English Italian awards, earning him the chance to cook with Aldo Zilli, while Angelo’s finished in the top ten for Best Restaurant.
Fuelled by their previous success, the pair have entered the original Angelo’s, as well as its new sister site into this year’s awards.
Federico says the response to the new site in the first few weeks of opening has been strong.
“The response has been very good,” he said. “We’ve had lots of people coming in from East Rainton, as well as from elsewhere. We already have a number of regulars.
“We’ve kept a couple of things, like the ships’ ropes and lamps, but we’ve changed the flooring and decor and decorated the shelves with Italian oils and pastas.
Head chef Nello said: “The pub was in a good condition, but we didn’t want to replicate what went before. We wanted to make our own mark on the restaurant. It has a more rustic feel than the city centre restaurant and also has free parking.
“The parking in Sunniside, and the recent increase in charges, means we don’t get as much day time trade as we’d like. We don’t have that problem here and we’ve already had customers from the Sunniside business coming here to try it out.
Three chefs positions, as well as seven other front of house jobs, have been created by the new venture with Nello overseeing the kitchens at both sites.
The menu is similar to that at the original Angelo’s with traditional Italian fare and specials that change regularly, as well as Sunday roasts.
Nello beat off stiff competition from around the country last year to be named as Best Chef in the inaugural English Italian awards after wowing judge Aldo Zilli, famed for his Italian food, with his homemade pasta and sausage dish.
Federico said: “We work so hard and winning the award was a great boost for business. But we want to keep going, we’re always thinking of the next new dish.”
Nello has entered the Best Chef category this year, while Angelo’s Ristorante has entered Best Restaurant over 50 seats. The new site, Angelo’s Trattoria, is vying for Best Newcomer and Best Restaurant under 50 seats.