Verdoni: We opened in February 2015 to showcase the excellence of the Italian craft brewing scene. The idea is to bring to London what we do best when it comes to beer, wine and food. Our aim is to offer a taste of Italian craft beer to Londoners and to match it with a range of Italian food, including some gourmet dishes that you would find in restaurants.
We have been extremely popular since opening so, to take advantage of this opportunity, we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help the expansion. We raised more than £400,000 from 166 investors mostly from London and Italy, and this will allow us to open more venues across the city. We decided to go for the crowdfunding model because opening multiple sites in London is very expensive and we wanted people to become involved in the project.
Verdoni: I used to work in banking and had some years in consulting and, in 2012, moved to London to open an investment company. I sold my stake and, in 2013, when I was looking at my next opportunity, realised that Italian craft beer was non-existent in the capital. So I decided, by pairing with the right producer, to cut out the middle man and make craft beer available. Here we can promote our product for its quality and sell a pint for more than £5.
Address: Devonshire Rd, Chiswick, London
Tenure: Private lease
Wet/dry split: 60:40
Most popular beers: Via Emilia (£5.50), Machete (£7.50), Free Ride (£5.50)
Best-selling dishes: The Italian Job Burger (£11), Hop & Pork (£10.50), Torta Fritta e Salumi (£12)
Campari: We have 12 draught beers, all of which are craft Italian beers, the majority of which are from the Birrificio del Ducato (a brewery in Parma, in the north of Italy). The rest are other craft beers from all over Italy from Tuscany to the Romagna, Lombardy and Lazio region. Via Emilia is one of our best-selling beers, it’s Ducato’s signature beer that contains hop flowers hand-picked from Germany. We try to keep at least one or two light lagers and a few India pale ales. We don’t have any cider but we do have a selection of gins, some of which are local, and a selection of whiskies. Importing the beer from Italy is very expensive, because of alcohol taxes and we have a trading company called Ducato London, which deals with the importing side.
Verdoni: We offer Italian street food using UK ingredients and quality is key for us in everything that we serve. We have a micro producer for wine from London and a lot of our ham and cheese comes from Parma. We have this very popular fried dough, called torta fritta and a lot of food from other regions of Italy, for example, arancini-fried rice balls from Sicily. We source most of the meat from the UK, but sometimes we have some specialities from Sardinia, such as suckling pig, or sirloin steak.
Campari: We recently opened within Mercato Metropolitano, a new food market in the Elephant and Castle area of south London, which sells different types of [Italian] food, such as Neapolitan pizza, wine and gelato. We’ve noticed that, despite selling a pint for £6 or £7, people are more inclined to taste Italian beer, which is encouraging.
Verdoni: We have a lot of local customers from quite affluent backgrounds aged between 30 and 50, but we also get a lot of people with families and children who love the pub for our level of service, beers and food.
One of our customers is a CAMRA member from east London who loves the craft beer movement and is particularly interested in Italian craft beer.
Campari: All of our team members are Italian, except one of our colleagues, who is Portuguese. Some staff were recruited from Italy, while some were already living in London and they have seen the pub grow during the past year. The staff are very important because they create a unique atmosphere and experience for our customers.
Verdoni: The idea is to open at least one new pub every year for the next five years. We’ve set up a new little shack in Mercato Metropolitano where we’ll be selling 16 types of draught beers.
We have found another site in central London and, if everything goes well, we will have four pubs by the end of 2017.