Vito Cataffo, the Italian restaurateur who opened a British restaurant in Bologna earlier this year, is planning a roll-out of sites across Italy and is encouraging like-minded restaurateurs to follow in his footsteps.
Cataffo, who owns four Italian restaurants in the UK and has a commercial interest in another 31, is currently starring in a six-part documentary on Channel 4 called Dolce Vito where he finds new restaurant premises and searches for the best British produce to serve there.
Having made a success of the first restaurant, named Passion, and wowed Italians with his traditional British dishes like fish & chips and British roast beef, Cataffo told BigHospitality he now plans to open at least another two British restaurants in Italy.
He said: "We've just finished August when Bologna pretty much shuts down and we were still 55 per cent full. Bookings for September are to about 80 per cent capacity so it's looking good and I've been looking at sites in places like Parma to expand the concept."
Cataffo says his Italian customers love the British dishes he serves using produce that is regularly flown out to the restaurant from selected producers in the UK.
He said: "The reason I believe in opening restaurants using British produce is we've got the most quality-orientated systems in place in Britain. British beef, lamb and pork always comes out on top and Cheddar cheese is wonderful, but they've never heard of it in Italy. We don't do enough to promote our produce abroad."
The restaurateur, whose family moved to Southampton from Benevento in Italy when he was one, says he is looking for British chefs with a passion for British food who could work for him in Italy.
He said: "I am keen to hear from budding chefs who have a real talent and great ideas when it comes to bringing out the superb natural flavour of homegrown and home-reared foods.
"I plan to invite the best to go out to Bologna and to work in Passion for six to 12 months alongside my existing chefs, so that they can learn from them but also take our British menu to the next level."
The international restaurateur said he is also keen to share his business expertise in expanding here and abroad with others.
"I am keen to offer my services as a consultant and project manager and I also want to nurture some of the UK’s best young chefs for the future," he said.
"I can also help if they are looking at a total rebuild or a refit, or if they have a new concept, by sharing my experience. It is vital to find the right location and to get the design spot-on."
Dolce Vito is broadcast on Thursdays at 8.30pm on Channel 4.