‘A lot of people think Italy is just pasta and pizza. But there’s so much more than that.’
So says Cipriano Martins Gomes, one of the team behind York’s newest restaurant, Cicchetti Lounge.
The restaurant opened over two floors on Low Petergate today (Friday) and YorkMix went in for a first look.
Once home to Filmore & Union, which shut when the parent company collapsed in 2019, the building has been transformed.
Cicchetti Lounge has a stylish and warm ambience, with foliage walls and ceilings, neon signs with cheery messages like ‘Hello gorgeous’, and shelves filled with fine Italian wine.
Now run by the same team behind the large Italian La Vecchia Scuola next door, the original plan was to use the building as a waiting area for that restaurant.
“Then it just developed into the beautiful space that we have,” said Cipriano.
The restaurant has 42 covers and a distinctive menu. “So, cicchetti is Italian for small plates – which is a massive part of Italian tradition,” Cipriano explained.
“It’s kind of a Spanish tapas, but in an Italian way. We want to introduce nice cocktails, nice wines with small plates.
“It’s a place where you can come with your wife, your husband, your friends, colleagues, sit down, enjoy some nice food and nice drinks, and actually be able to have a conversation without loud music blaring out in a nice environment.”
The small plates range from patatine fritte – house chips (£3), up to smoked salmon carpaccio (£9.95).
Asked for a Cicchetti Lounge signature dish, Cipriano suggested tortellini di brasato (£8.95), “which is slow-cooked beef cheeks that we serve on top of tortellini rolls”.
And for cocktail lovers he recommended Cicchetti Dreams, “a gin-based cocktail that everybody will love”.
Cipriano is Portuguese, and first came to England in 2011. He has worked in a series of Italian restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian, and lived in Italy for a while, before returning to England and moving to York.
“My background started with bars, then I moved to restaurants. Now I’m bringing the best of both worlds together at Cicchetti.”
Find out more on its Facebook page here.