Two-Michelin-starred chef Antonio Mellino has won praise for his classic, family-fun restaurant Campania, and this autumn came to the UK to open his second site. He speaks to Neil Gerrard about how to keep a sense of Italy in the heart of London's Mayfair
Why did you decide to open Quattro Passi in London?
I had been offered various opportunities over the years, such as Abu Dhabi and New York, but they didn't appeal, and then London became an option. London is one of the most attractive cities in the world. I like English people. Also, London is close to Naples, so I can pop home easily, and any ingredients I can't get in London can be with me the same day if I make a phone call to friends. Our aim is to introduce Londoners to real Italian fine dining by bringing a consistently impressive food offering and an individually tailored experience into the
heart of Mayfair.
How different is the restaurant market in London to that on the Amalfi Coast?
London is certainly more competitive and fast-paced, but ultimately people want to be looked after and cared for anywhere in the world. Your two sons each run one of your restaurants [Fabrizio in Italy and Raffaele in England].
How did you decide which of them opened the London site?
Raffaele always displayed a natural inclination towards England and the English culture. Now he's here, he will never go back to Italy.
What is it like working so closely with members of your family?
I consider myself very lucky. They all understand my concept and they are there to support me. I was brought up in a family passionate
about authentic Italian cuisine, so my interest in cooking and quality produce began in the early stages of my childhood. My father was a
fisherman and my mother cooked for the nobles who lived along the Sorrentine Peninsula. You could say that it's engraved in our DNA.
How will the London restaurant differ from the original?
The decor is very different. We have a magical seaside-inspired decor on the Amalfi coast, but a more elegant interior in London.
It's in perfect harmony with the clean, simply presented dishes and the chic location. The food and quality is the same. The Quattro Passi concept is defined by the quality of the freshest Mediterranean ingredients, a lot of which we produce ourselves or fly up from Italy.
Signature dishes include fresh linguine with courgette and courgette flowers and sea bass ‘guazzetto-style' with calamari, prawns, artichokes and saffron.
Who will it appeal to?
We're on Dover Street in the heart of Mayfair, so we aim to appeal to couples and families and attract local businesses. I hope we will shine on the London dining scene just like our restaurant on the Amalfi coast, which now attracts celebrities and connoisseurs from all over the world.
Have you had the chance to try any other London restaurants?
I've been to many, from the Italian to the French ones, most of which are outstanding. What's interesting is that the chefs do not come
out to greet their guests. Being a family restaurant, I want people to feel included and in a warm, welcoming environment. It's my
intention to regularly meet and greet and take care of my guests.