Sheffield restaurant a hit with Rocky star Sylvester Stallone celebrates more than 25 years in business

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A Sheffield restaurant once visited by Rocky star Sylvester Stallone that has been a hit with city residents ever since it opened is celebrating more than 25 years in business.

Ecclesall Road has seen a lot of changes over the past quarter of a century but one thing that has remained a constant is the passion for good food and drink of Maurizio Mori.

His restaurant Nonnas - which was first unveiled in 1996 - has grown from humble beginnings to become an institution in the city, winning many awards and also becoming a popular place with the rich and famous.

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Hollywood ‘A' lister Sylvester Stallone even popped in for a meal after appearing for a talk at Sheffield City Hall in January 2015 – and loved it so much he stayed until the early hours!

Maurizio Mori (front row, fourth from left) and Stefano Buralli (front row - sixth from left) with the Nonnas staff celebrate their 25 years in business.Maurizio Mori (front row, fourth from left) and Stefano Buralli (front row - sixth from left) with the Nonnas staff celebrate their 25 years in business.
Maurizio Mori (front row, fourth from left) and Stefano Buralli (front row - sixth from left) with the Nonnas staff celebrate their 25 years in business.
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Lockdown measures meant Nonnas staff and customers were unable to mark their 25th year anniversary in 2021 – so they took the decision to move it to this year.

They are due to host a visit from Sheffield Lord Mayor Councilllor Gail Smith on Wednesday, March 30, who will help them to celebrate the milestone.

Maurizio also wanted to publicly say a big ‘thank you' to the customers that have showed the restaurant continued support, in particular over the last two years, which have been particularly tough during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Sylvester Stallone during his appearance at Sheffield City Hall.Sylvester Stallone during his appearance at Sheffield City Hall.
Sylvester Stallone during his appearance at Sheffield City Hall.

He said: "It has been a privilege to be able to develop such a unique business over the years. I have always striven to do something different and bring the flavour and style of our Tuscan homeland to Sheffield and give it a Nonnas twist.

"But I could never have done it without the amazing support of both customers and staff. A lot of people have tried to copy us over the years but there really is only one Nonnas originale here on Ecclesall Road.

"I still have as much passion now as I ever did so there's definitely another 25 years in us yet!"

Starstruck diners were wowed when actor Sylvester Stallone turned up unannounced at the venue following his appearance at the City Hall several years ago.

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Sylvester Stallone visited Nonnas.Sylvester Stallone visited Nonnas.
Sylvester Stallone visited Nonnas.

Staff thought their opening weekend was complete after they waved goodbye to their last happy customers on Sunday evening.

But they didn't expect word of their famed Italian hospitality to have reached one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.

Maurizio thought it was a wind-up when he got the call that Stallone was hoping to eat there that night.

But he soon realised it was true when as a team of security guards arrived to check out the place in advance of the star's arrival.

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Sylvester Stallone during his visit to Nonnas.Sylvester Stallone during his visit to Nonnas.
Sylvester Stallone during his visit to Nonnas.

Maurizio said: "We were about to close up for the evening and I ended up having to call staff back and enlist the help of family to ensure we put on meal to remember. We were told Sylvester Stallone was partial to meatballs so we created a special menu for him in superfast time."

Stallone’s promoter, Rocco Buonvino, was one of the first visitors to the newly refurbished Nonna's earlier in the day and recommended it to the Italian/American star.

Maurizio added: "He couldn't have been a nicer and more down to earth guest. It really felt like he was one of the family. He sat our new 'Captain's Table' and smoked a Toscano Antico cigar from the private collection of legendary Sheffield restaurateur Moreno Mori, my dad.”

Sylvester Stallone loved Nonna's so much he ended up staying twice as long as planned and didn't leave until after 1am on the Monday morning.

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"His staff kept telling him his plane was waiting but he didn't want to leave!", added Maurizio.

The specially prepared Sylvester Stallone menu included deep fried spicy prawns, traditional "Caprese" and selection of italian cured meats.

Sisters Patrizia and Sabrina Vicano also joined forces with Nonna's headchef Ross Sayles to turn Patrizia's potato dumpling specialty into "Gnocchi alla Stallone", with Ross' special meat balls.

He also enjoyed Ciambelline al Vino (Italian red wine biscuits) and home made Italian chestnut conserve tart, together with Torta della Nonna.

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Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United footballers have also been known to stop by over the years to enjoy the food, drink and atmosphere.

Nonnas has also won many awards over the years including the coveted “best Italian business” at the renowned English Italian Awards.

It also holds an AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence and have an AA Notable Wine List.

One of the restaurant’s proudest achievements has been partnering with the De Angelis family in earthquake hit Amatrice in Italy.

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Nonnas staff and customers raised thousands of pounds to help them rebuild their lives and their cheese business after the 2016 disaster which left 299 people dead and 400 injured.

Nonnas - which also has Maurizio's childhood friend Stefano Buralli as its long-standing general manager - prides itself in a mixture of tradition, innovation and consistent quality of service.

The restaurant also now sell the celebrated Caffe New York blend of coffee that is imported directly from the Tuscan coffee bar which originally opened in Montecatini in the 1930s.

Their wine list now includes super Tuscan wines and a range of Montecarlo wines which are supplied from the Buonamico wine estate which is situated 15km from Montecatini.