New owners of much-loved Italian restaurant in Sheffield seek to honour founder's legacy

Bella Napoli before it closed (photo: Paul David Drabble)
Bella Napoli before it closed (photo: Paul David Drabble)
0
Have your say

The new owners of what was one of Sheffield's best-loved Italian restaurants have vowed to honour its founder's legacy while adding their own stamp.

Bella Napoli, on Abbeydale Road, was opened 15 years ago by Nancy Dallagiovanna, and the traditional cuisine and cosy atmosphere soon made it a firm favourite with locals.

Chris Shenton outside the former Bella Napoli restaurant, which is undergoing refurbishment before reopening as Volpe

Chris Shenton outside the former Bella Napoli restaurant, which is undergoing refurbishment before reopening as Volpe

It closed at the end of July and new proprietors Chris Shenton and Karla Gabbitas, who also owns the gift shop Frankly My Deer a couple of doors along, are busy converting it into an Italian cafe/bistro called Volpe.

Chris, who previously worked in sales, said it had always been his dream to open a cafe and he was thrilled to get the chance after being made redundant from his job in sales.

He said some of the most popular dishes like the spare ribs and pancakes would remain, with Nancy, who has retired, helping ensure they got the recipes right.

But he said there would also be new plates, with plans for a rotating menu and possibly occasional themed nights where guest chefs will take over the kitchen.

Nancy Dallagiovanna, the former owner and chef at Bella Napoli (photo: Paul David Drabble)

Nancy Dallagiovanna, the former owner and chef at Bella Napoli (photo: Paul David Drabble)

"We're going to run a more simplified menu, retaining some of Nancy's best-sellers and introducing some dishes of our own," he said.

"Nancy had a really loyal following and the phone's been ringing off the hook but the customers have been giving us great feedback.

"Lots of them have promised to come and sample our dishes and give us the chance to carry on Nancy's legacy."

The barbecued spare ribs at Bella Napoli have acquired an almost legendary status among some local diners. In 2013, The Star's food reviewer listed it as one of his favourite ever dishes, which he said stood comparison with the creations of Michelin-starred chefs.

Chris and Karla hope to open on September 1 after giving the bijou venue a makeover.

As for the name, volpe is Italian for fox, and pays tribute to the graffiti foxes adorning the wall of the restaurant and many other buildings in the area.