NEW restaurant has brought the authentic flavors of Italy to Milton Road in Westcliff.

Alessandro Russo, who was born in Venice and grew up in Milan, has opened Don Amici’s after a long and rewarding career in the

restaurant industry.
Alessandro, 55, said: “When I fin
ished my studies I started working in restaurants in the heart of Milan, the city of fashion and design.

“Surrounded by foreign workers and tourists it motivated me to learn another language and to move to London to study and to work. I had planned that once I finished my studies I would go back to Italy, but I loved the London lifestyle and ended up living in the city for 30 years.”

During the eighties Alessandro worked as a restaurant manager in some of the West End’s top clubs and restaurants including the Hippodrome Club in Leicester Square and Stringfellows night club in Covent Garden.

As well as a love for food, Alessandro has a love of music and in the early Nineties had a singing career. When promoting his album and touring around Europe he met some of the most well-known singers including Whitney Houston, Prince, George Michael and many more famous stars including Italian pop stars and international sportsmen.

Memories of his career are showcased in the gallery at the restaurant with photos of Alessandro and many famous faces.

In 1992 Alessandro opened his first restaurant in Camden Town and then moved to Battersea to open another restaurant which he ran for 20 years.

After a successful period in London, he sold up and moved back home to Italy to enjoy early retirement.

Alessandro says: “After three years I started missing England, friends and family and that’s why I decided to come back and start all over again and to move to Southend.

“I chose not to live in London this time as I wanted a place where I could enjoy the tranquillity of a small town but have the benefit of visiting London occasionally.”

And this is where the Don Amici story begins.

Offering authentic Italian cuisine with traditional menu choices such as pizza and pasta, Alessandro says “passion and professionalism” along

N Hands on – Alessandro Russo has managed top London restaurants

with many years of experience in the industry made him want to open a “little restaurant” in Westcliff.

“It’s the small and friendly restaurant I have been looking for and is a long way from what I have been trading before in London.

“In the past my restaurants had up to 100-120 covers but Don Amici’s is smaller with 15-20 covers.”

Although smaller, and booking is recommended, Alessandro has ensured the same level of high service is on offer and food is served to how diners would expect from an Italian restaurant.

Alessandro added: “Don Amici’s has been operating for six months and my goal is to make this little and cosy place an authentic Italian cuisine for everyone.

“It offers good and freshly cooked food. I make my own dough for pizza as well as bread and freshly cooked ‘al dente’ pasta with mouth-watering sauces and, of course, in main courses. Steak, chicken and fish are also on the menu.

“Here at Don Amici’s you can enjoy a taste of a little corner of Italy in Westcliff.”

Despite its short time in the area, it is proving popular with local diners.

Comments include “delicious, my favorite Italian” and “the food was delicious as always”. “Best Italian food around, tiramisu was fantastic.”

While it might be smaller, Alessandro continues to give 100 percent to the restaurant.

He offers a takeaway menu and has five-star ratings from delivery providers Just Eat and Deliveroo as well as Facebook.

With the restaurant now open for lunch between 1 pm and 5 pm offering spring and summertime specials, Alessandro says: “Word of mouth is still the best way of attracting people, knowing that customers are enjoying the food, in the end, is what it’s all about.”

While he doesn’t miss the hustle and bustle of London, he’s fond of his new Southend base.

“I plan to live here for a long time, I like Southend, especially when it’s nice weather on the seafront. It makes me feel like I am in Italy, I love it.”