Italian restaurant Bollicini has invested in a stylish redesign that will benefit both diners as well as customers simply wishing to enjoy a cocktail or an Italian beer in the new bar area.
Father and son owners Sergio and Gianni Poletti have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a revamp of the venue, off Northgate Street, Chester, as the focus of the city shifts northwards with the imminent arrival of Storyhouse.
The new layout has involved creating a distinct bar area by the entrance while reuniting the upper and lower dining areas in one space which is more light and airy. As before there are hints of Italy everywhere with tasteful pictures of Venice, a typical Tuscan street scene and iconic Italian movie stars like Sophia Loren.
Gianni, whose father runs their more traditional Sergio Ristorante, off St Werburgh Street, said: “We spent a lot because we felt that Northgate would become a nice quarter, especially with Storyhouse opening. We always believed Chester would move this way.”
Chester is fast becoming a destination for discerning diners with new operators opening and established venues like Bollicini refreshing their offer. Gianni views the trend as positive.
“Chester is buzzing. There are so many restaurants opening. People see the glass as half full or half empty. I always see it as half full. If people are investing in Chester it means they believe in Chester.”
His only concern is the arrival of the big chains as he would prefer more independents, a stance which chimes with a growing body of opinion.
“I would like to see more and not only in restaurants but in every area, like shops,” he said. “I think Chester is a beautiful city but I would prefer more independents coming in because they bring a unique offer so that when you come to Chester you don’t find another Cheshire Oaks but you find Chester, a unique city in England.”
With its contemporary style and good food, Bollicini aims to create the ‘real Italian experience’ with the ambition of becoming the best Italian restaurant in the North West. In terms of decor and furniture everything has been imported from Italy including the chairs, lights and pictures. There are different styles of seating, to ‘a quirky’ feel, including booths and even a marble-finished table.
Aside from the physical changes, the new bar is staffed by Italian bar tenders with a selection that includes Italian cocktails and a wide range of Italian beers with non-dining customers positively encouraged to go along and enjoy a drink in the bar or on the terrace.
And Bollicini has struck a deal with Italian celebrity chef, Francesco Gotti – a personal friend of Gianni – to become their executive chef. He has completely redesigned the menu from the starters, to pizza and pasta, meat and fish dishes, as well as the selection of desserts.
He flies in every two or three months to check how everything is going.
Over the summer he will be visiting Chester to cook and talk at popular Italian-themed nights for around 200 held in the serene environment of the cathedral refectory. He will host five nights, each covering the cuisine of a different Italian region, beginning in the north and ending in the south.
The first event is on Friday, April 28. For more details, click here.