The little restaurant that started a conquest of Italian cuisine in Chester
The team at popular restaurant Da Noi open their dream pizzeria in Chester.
The husband and wife duo moved to Cheshire from Italy a decade ago and have made it their mission to bring their passion and culinary knowledge to the town.
Their new business, an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria called Augusto, is set to open this month in the city center.
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Da Noi is a small Italian restaurant on Bridge Street, owned by husband and wife duo Valentina Aviotti and Fabrizio Gobatto.
The couple moved from the Piedmont region of north-west Italy to Cheshire a decade ago when Fabrizio got a job as a mechanical engineer at Bentley Motors’ Crewe factory.
“We decided to jump on the plane and change our lives,” Fabrizio told CheshireLive. “At the time, Valentina didn’t speak English at all. So, first of all, she went to school.
She started selling cakes by the slice at Nantwich Market, where they had originally chosen to set up shop in the countryside.
As her language skills developed, Valentina gave a cooking demonstration with chef Brian Mellor, who had a cooking school near Tattenhall.
The budding chef then joined a kitchen brigade in Nantwich, developing her skills and passion for cooking. However, Valentina soon began to feel limited in what she could do under the control of another leader.
The duo made the decision to open a small restaurant, with a small kitchen, so that chef Valentina could express herself.
In August 2018 they opened Da Noi in their dream town of Chester. Da Noi’s goal was to create a truly authentic Italian restaurant, with dishes originating from Turin, where Fabrizio and Valentina were born.
Fabrizio said: “We Italians are very proud of our culinary origins. And we always like things, when we have dinner together, to be done right. A bit like everyone else but we are very passionate about it.
“So I had this vision of trying to change the distorted image that everyone outside of Italy has of Italian restaurants, food and hospitality.
“Most of the time you go to an Italian restaurant and expect something. But as Italians we know that 80% of the restaurants we find outside Italy do not exist in Italy. They are like a fake version of what we do.
Barely four months later, the small restaurant was visited by Michelin inspectors and secured its place in the Michelin guide.
The dishes follow the traditions that started with the recipes of their grandmothers. They change the menu with the season three to four times a year, and use the products that the region offers.
Fabrizio said: “I think what’s really original about what we do is that our pasta is homemade every day. It changes, each menu offers a different pasta dish. Each menu has at least one risotto.
Da Noi serves a hand-picked selection of wines, largely from the Piedmont region. For avid wine lovers, they also offer a pairing experience, pairing each dish perfectly with the grape.
They only take between 10 and 30 reservations a day. “It’s a tiny place and the kitchen is even smaller,” Fabrizio explained.
A year ago, Valentina and Fabrizio decided to open a series of businesses that encompass all aspects of true Italian cuisine.
Fabrice said: “When people visit our country, what do they find? What is beautiful when they sit down at a table or enter a place?
“So when you go to Italy, you can have a great meal in a restaurant, you can sit in a beautiful wine bar that serves the appetizer, you have the most amazing ice cream, you have beautiful places in a pastry, you have a pizza.
“You have all kinds of things that are different from each other.”
But together these different elements create a complete picture of Italian cuisine, and that’s what the couple want to bring to Cheshire.
The first new opening under the ‘Nutmeg’ brand is an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria based on Northgate Street.
Augusto will be the “pizzeria of our dreams”, said Fabrizio, offering traditional toppings, seasonal specialties and Turin-style pizza as a tribute to their birthplace.
The contemporary restaurant is spread over two floors, with 40 to 45 seats and a take-out service.
Unlike Da Noi, which is more of an intimate fine dining establishment, Augusto will be accessible to everyone, including students, families and casual shoppers.
Fabrizio explained how they hope to create pizzas related to the seasonal cuisine served at Da Noi.
The previously vacant unit has been transformed, with exposed brick and trusses in the roof, and bright colors to create a strong brand identity.
On the ground floor, customers can watch their pizzas being made in the pizza oven.
The new restaurant and takeaway is scheduled to open in late February 2022 and will initially be open Wednesday through Sunday.
Fabrizio and chef Valentina now hope to move Da Noi from its small Bridge Street location to something bigger due to its ever-growing popularity.
Fabrizio said: “The dream was to have something small and manageable, but we very quickly outgrew the space.”