Giuseppe came to the UK back in 2005 with a plan to spend six months improving his English before returning to his job in a hotel in Italy. Fifteen years’ later and he’s still here, having recently opened his very own restaurant in the site previously occupied by Delifonseca on Stanley Street.
Having worked in hospitality for almost two decades, Giuseppe started his career in a five-star hotel in his native Sardinia before securing a role with Piccolino’s in the UK. He was part of the team responsible for new openings and held roles across the country before accepting a position with San Carlo in Liverpool. However, his love of good food started at a young age, well before his career in hospitality when he still dreamed of becoming a farmer! “I grew up on a farm, surrounded by chickens and pigs and a variety of fresh produce. Our cooking was simple, using the local ingredients which were available to us. A dish doesn’t need ten complicated ingredients to make it tasty, and sometimes the simplest meals are the best.”
The name ‘La Famiglia’ is not a coincidence, as family really does mean everything to Giuseppe. He runs his business in partnership with his best friend Krzysztof and their wives, who also happen to be sisters. They have four children between them, and the walls of their restaurant are lined with photos from their own childhoods. La Famiglia is closed on Sundays to allow everyone to take a well-earned break. “Giving our team a day off is essential for their wellbeing, and spending time with our families is incredibly important to all of us. Most weekends you’ll find me and my family out walking in North Wales or The Lake District. I see the green fields, or the beach and I feel like I’m back home in Sardinia.”
Giuseppe is determined to have La Famiglia recognised for their authentic Italian food, even if that means omitting some dishes which new customers might expect to see on their menu. “Our food is the food you would find in a restaurant in Italy. We don’t use dried or pre-cooked pasta, and our menu is a little different from other Italian restaurants. For example, you won’t find a spaghetti bolognaise on the menu – we have Gnocchetti Al Ragu. The Ragu is still made with beef mince and tomato sauce, but it also includes pancetta and pork. This is the way most Italian mums would make the dish, using these common ingredients they have to hand in their fridge. We don’t make a Spaghetti Carbonara, but we do offer a Fettuccine with Pistachio and Pancetta, which is a traditional dish you would find in any Sicilian restaurant. Our goal is to offer the same menu here as we would if we had opened our restaurant in Italy.”
It’s clear that Giuseppe is a creative at heart, and he loves coming up with new ideas for La Famiglia. Whether it’s hand-crafting a classic cocktail for a customer, developing a new seasonal dish for the menu, or coming up with ideas for theme nights in the restaurant he is clearly in his element when he is creating something new. “It’s not just about the food. We want our customers to be immersed in an experience. We’ve done pizza and baking masterclasses, wine tasting nights and even our very own Giro d’Italia which allowed customers to explore food from different regions.”
This approach has paid off, with La Famiglia winning Best New Restaurant at the Liverpool Lifestyle Awards in February this year. “It was such a shock to us! We were up against some great restaurants in our category and had never for a minute considered that we might win. When they called our name, I just couldn’t believe it!”
Despite the disruption of 2020, Giuseppe is positive about the future of La Famiglia. “Even with hindsight and knowing what we know now about Covid-19 and the impact it’s had on our industry, I’m still glad we opened our restaurant when we did. During lockdown we created a deli, supplying essentials to our customers. We expanded to takeaway cocktails, and freshly cooked meals for collection. Our customers gave us great support, and we were so happy to welcome them back when we reopened in July.”
Giuseppe and his team are on a mission to bring the best that Italy has to offer to Liverpool, and their approach has seen them land a spot in the top 5% of TripAdvisor restaurant reviews for restaurants in the city. “Every meal is made with passion and love. Liverpool is a close community, and your reputation counts for a lot. We have some customers who visit us 2 or 3 times a week, and we love to see them return. One customer said to me “I don’t think you built a restaurant here, I think you just made your living room bigger!” and that’s exactly how we want our customers to feel – like they’ve stepped into our family home.”