History of An Italian Family
Picture if you will the landscape of Emilia-Romagna, the region in northern Italy rich with gastro names that trip off the tongue like a foodies' roll of honour; Prosciutto di Parma, Balsamico di Modena and Parmigiana Reggiano among many more.
Picture the fields chock-full of gorgeous veg, happy livestock, small food producers, picture-book vineyards, the Parma ham swinging above the main bar, the locals enjoying food which is the envy of the world.
Hold on, we're in Central London, so to promise that Italian idyll would be a tad over the top. But what we can promise is a deliciously authentic taste of the area, bought over to London in 1957 by our founder Pino Ispani.
Pino left the village of Rabbini aged just 14. He spoke no English, but found work in a café in Dalston, Hackney, where his love of food was fostered. Some three years later his uncle, Johnny Silva, who lived in the hills above Piacenza, also left for London, opening Marcantonio, a café in Lambeth, which rapidly built an enviable reputation.
Now aged 19, Pino knew he was onto something. He met an investor, Mr Vincent, who loaned him the money to open in Elizabeth Street, Victoria, right next door to the coach terminal, which in the 1960's was abuzz with activity.
The Ponti's name was born and it became known for excellent service, a relaxed but vibrant ambience and of course unbeatable food.
During the 1980's Pino opened his own production kitchen, making patisseries, ice cream and main meals. He supplied not just his own restaurants, but also other eateries.
He introduced more genuine Italian dishes, served in the passionate way that only the Italians seem to do naturally. Tourists flocked to the restaurants in Covent Garden and Oxford Circus, while in Liverpool Street Station travellers awaited their trains in a Ponti's situated on the balcony.
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