Natalia Ribbe: “I want to get people drinking wine that’s outside their comfort zone”

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Natalia Ribbe on her and Jackson Berg's upcoming Cliftonville restaurant and wine bar

Related tags: Natalia Ribbe, Jackson Berg, Barletta, Wine, Chefs, Kent

The natural wine aficionado and front of house pro behind Margate’s Barletta on her and chef Jackson Berg’s upcoming wine bar and restaurant in the Kent seaside town’s Cliftonville area.

Tell us about the new place
We’re launching a wine bar and restaurant that’s inspired by the intimate wine bars of Paris - I am obsessed with the likes of La Buvette and La Cave à Michel - and the south coast of France. We haven’t quite decided on a name. We’re probably going to name it after a place on the south coast of France that’s close to Spain. That will give Jackson a bit of leeway when it come to the inspiration behind the menu. 

Where is it going to be? 
A former jewellery shop in Cliftonville, which is located about 20 minute’s walk away from Margate’s Old Town. It will mainly be aimed at locals as the area is largely residential and the tourist footfall is quite low. There are already a few good operators there but the community is crying out for more great places. 

When do you expect to launch? 
It will be opened in phases. We’re hoping to get the wine bar and retail part of it open by late July to catch the end of the season. Phase two will be a restaurant to the rear of the site. We’re looking at October for that. The wine bar will have 20 covers inside and a further 20 outside on the pavement. We’re looking at around 40 covers for the restaurant, which will have a rustic homely feel and an open kitchen. Phase three will be making full use of the site’s large south-facing garden. We’re hoping to take inspiration from the likes of Petersham Nurseries and Rochelle Canteen to create a beautiful semi-outdoor space that can trade year round.

Will you retain Barletta at The Turner Contemporary?
Yes absolutely. We’ve just celebrated one year there. It was a quite a challenging space initially as the location demanded something that was accessible to everybody but we’ve now found our footing. There’s been a lot of trial and error with the food. We now offer sandwiches, specials at a range of price points, a few signature dishes and some more accessible dishes in the day. In the evening the menu is more foodie and ambitious. 

What’s the plan for the wine list at the new place?​ 
Natural wine was initially a tough sell at our current location - sometimes it felt like we were literally shoving it down people’s throats. Things have improved a lot but we’re still quite restricted  due to limitations on storage and the mainstream audience we’re catering for. We will have a much bigger, more exciting and more varied list. I plan to change our by the glass selection very regularly. I want to get people drinking wine that’s outside their comfort zone. 

What about staffing? 
It’s been tough at Barletta recently, especially in the kitchen. With that in mind we’re going to be operating the new place with a very tight team. The wine bar element can be looked after by one or two people and we're looking at a team of four in the restaurant, two back of house and two front of house. 

You and Jackson have mainly done pop-ups and taken over pre-existing venues. What's it like to be creating something from scratch? 
It's very exciting. Barletta has largely been a movable concept so we’ve been quite restricted. We have always inherited things and generally had to make do. We’ve put our stamp on Barletta at The Turner Contemporary in terms of the food and the aesthetic but there are things we can’t change. This will be properly us from the ground up and a real opportunity for Jackson and I to show what we are really about, what inspires us and how we want to operate. Hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our own places.

Related topics: Business Profile, Restaurant

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