CELEBRITY chef Antonio Carluccio is to become the latest in a series of top food industry names to open a restaurant in the North East.
The Italian cook is looking to bring a branch of his restaurant chain to Newcastle’s Grey Street.
The move, following in the footsteps of Marco Pierre White and Jamie Oliver, marks the growth of the city as a food destination.
Applications have been submitted to the council for Carluccio’s, an Italian cafe and deli, on the site of the former NatWest bank in the Central Exchange building.
Opening between 8am and 12.30am, the branch would have around 160 covers spread over three dining rooms, as well as a pavement cafe area outside.
Last year, Pierre White opened a steakhouse in Fenkle Street, while Oliver plans to bring his affordable Jamie’s Italian chain to the redeveloped Monument Mall. Meanwhile, “in excess of £3m” is said to be being spent refurbishing units on Grey Street and Market Street for Grey’s Cafe Bar, and chains Las Iguanas and Brown’s have recently opened their doors.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, welcomed news of more high-profile names on the city’s streets.
“There are a number of restaurants planned to open in NewcastleGateshead in 2013, which is great news,” she said. “The more choice and variety we have, the more attractive we are as a place to live, learn, work and visit.
“Food has become one of our real strengths thanks to festivals like EAT! NewcastleGateshead and the growth of award-winning food producers from in and around the North East.
“Existing restaurants like Blackfriars and Cafe 21 are internationally renowned and successful initiatives like NE1’s Restaurant Week, which is taking place until Sunday, have really showcased what amazing talent there is in the food and drink industry.
“New brands and restaurant chains choosing the area for their next venture is hugely positive as it demonstrates confidence in the destination.”
Antonio Carluccio, who made his name on the BBC Food and Drink Programme, opened the first Carluccio’s in London and it has spread across the UK. But if the Grey Street restaurant goes ahead, it will be the chain’s first in the North East.
Dishes offered are likely to include Italian options such as linguine al futti di mare (linguine pasta with squid, mussels, clams and prawns with garlic, herbs and chilli), orata con finocchio e capperi (pan-fried sea bream with crushed potatoes, fennel, olives and capers), and brasato di manzo (beef stew slow cooked with Chianti served with grilled polenta).
The Central Exchange building was built by Richard Grainger, who redeveloped much of Newcastle city centre in the 1820s and 30s. It is a triangular building which was at first intended to be a Corn Exchange, but it became a subscription newsroom and later an art gallery. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1867 and ravaged again in 1901. In 1906 the Central Arcade was created within the original building.