The manager of Gianni’s Brio restaurant and pizzeria on King’s Road, Marco Bernardi, told the Harrogate Advertiser that Gino “needs to open his eyes to what the town has to offer,” and said his comments have prompted a backlash from loyal customers - sentiments that have also been echoed by the owner of Sasso’s Italian restaurant on Princes Square, Stefano Lancellotti.
In an interview with the ‘Advertiser at his Parliament Street restaurant, Gino shared his views on Harrogate’s restaurant scene, stating that restaurants need to take charge of their own destiny and ‘stop blaming everybody else’ for their struggles.
Regarding the number of Italian restaurants in the town, he specifically said: “You have a lot of different restaurants here, what I haven’t seen yet is a proper Italian restaurant. I haven’t had any chance to see them, I mean on the street here I haven’t seen anyone apart from mine. Yes, you find the usual chain or you call them Italian - Prezzo, Pizza Express, we don’t really classify them as Italian, many people do.”
Gianni’s said the biggest reaction has come from their customers. Mr Bernardi said: “Gino needs to open his eyes to what the town has to offer, because you can’t say there’s no proper Italian restaurants without having, like he said, walked down here. Stuzzi’s does good Italian food, and Sasso’s - they’ve been here a long time.
“For him to just come out and say this statement quoting that there’s only chain restaurants - I agree with him that they’re not Italian, but he hasn’t looked at what independents are on the map already and have been long-established in Harrogate.
“Our customers have been incensed by what he said, coming in and saying, ‘Oh my God, have you seen what Gino has said?’ They can’t believe it.”
Gianni’s head chef Jonathan Dale, said: “After 36 years, we’re still going strong. Sasso’s are still going strong.
“Gianni’s is a family business, and with the family helping run the business and moving forward, I think in 36 years time it’ll still be going.”
The owner of Gianni’s, Gianni Bernardi, said: “I think we just need to state that some of the older restaurateurs in town weren’t very impressed by Gino’s comments.”