Café Lilli host Roberto Pittalis has described as “brilliant” news that he now owns the only Teesside restaurant listed in The Good Food Guide 2018.
It’s the third successive year that the Norton eatery has been listed in the annual foodie bible of the UK’s very best restaurants.
“It feels so good to be the only restaurant on Teesside listed,” said Sardinian Roberto. “It’s a real accolade.
“When you get the news that critics rate you as one of the best in the entire country, it’s brilliant – you forget about all the hard work and bad days.”
Carrying reviews based on a huge volume of feedback received from readers and via anonymous expert inspections, The Good Food Guide waxed lyrical about Café Lilli, describing it as a “happy-go-lucky bistro-style café”.
The review continues: “Much depends on the efforts of ebullient host Roberto Pittalis, who not only ensures that customers have a great time but also takes care when it comes to sourcing.”
It makes reference to Café Lilli’s commitment to local suppliers including buffalo purchased from Northallerton, fish from Hodgson’s of Hartlepool and draft artisan Good Food review is brilliant news pilsner lager from Three Brothers in Stockton.
And it adds: “The interior is an eclectic hotchpotch and so is the menu, which jogs happily from spiced panko-crusted king prawns with curried butter-bean houmous to roast venison with blue cheese and hazelnut crumble, mustard mash and port jus.”
Having previously run restaurants in Durham and Middlesbrough, Roberto broke new ground when opening Café Lilli on Norton High Street 15 years ago – but his bold move has proved to be a masterstroke, as the eatery has built up a loyal and passionate following.
Roberto gave credit to his supportive family and his “exceptional” team of 30 staff.
“It’s fantastic to receive recognition like this from such a prestigious source, which is a great measure of restaurants across the country from food industry professionals,” he added.
“It makes everybody here so proud, as it will be on their CVs forever. We’ve always aimed to provide the best food and best service amid the perfect ambience without ever being what might be called high-end.”