Mamma Mia – a city restauranteur has cooked up a storm to be named England’s best Italian chef.
Nello Russo, from Angelo’s Ristorante in West Sunniside, wowed top chef Aldo Zilli with his home-made pasta and sausage to be named Best Chef in the inaugural English Italian Awards.
And the city centre restaurant he co-owns with business partner Federico Trulli was named in the top ten in the country.
Nello and Angelo’s, which has been in the city for nine years, competed against Italian restaurants from across England in a hotly-fought contest which culminated in a ceremony in Manchester.
“We pride ourselves on our authentic Italian menu, and feel so proud to bring this award back to Sunderland,” said Federico, who hails from Rome. “We were the only restaurant from the North East to take an award home and we felt it was great to be representing the city.
“People there were from all over the country, and some of them didn’t even know where Sunderland was so we hope we’ve helped to put it on the map. It felt so good for Nello to win and for Angelo’s to be in the top ten. I have been in Sunderland for 14 years and I love this city.”
We pride ourselves on our authentic Italian menu, and feel so proud to bring this award back to SunderlandFederico Trulli
Judges from the competition came along to the restaurant, unbeknownst to the owners, to test its Italian authenticity after a customer vote placed Angelo’s as one of the finalists.
For the best chef category, Nello travelled to Manchester to cook a dish for celebrity chef Aldo Zilli, who is famed for his Italian cuisine.
Nello whipped up a home-made pasta and sausage dish using vegetables sourced from his home city of Naples, which he had to prepare in just half an hour. Top chef Aldo was so impressed with the dish that he asked Nello to take part in a further competition in London.
Speaking about the final ceremony, Federico said: “There were about 600 people there at the Gala dinner. There were around 20 categories but best chef and best restaurant were the top two. So to win one and come in the top ten for the other is a great achievement for us. We were so pleased to bring the award of Best Chef home with us to the city.”