Italian restaurateur Roberto Pittalis prides himself on creating the right culture and nurturing his staff at the ever popular Café Lilli.
So getting national recognition in Waitrose’s latest Good Food Guide – the bible for foodies described as ‘the UK’s most trusted and comprehensive restaurant handbook’ – comes as one of his proudest moments.
Waitrose’s Good Food Guide, well-known in the restaurant industry, is a compilation of top eateries throughout Britain.
And Café Lilli is one of only three restaurants in the Tees area to make the cut in Waitrose’s 2017 edition, along with the Bay Horse in Hurworth and the Raby Hunt in Darlington.
“We’re in good company!” smiles Sardinian Pittalis, who opened Café Lilli on Norton’s busy High Street 13 years ago.
“It’s the first time we’ve made the book, and it’s probably the biggest accolade we’ve had since the North East restaurant award in 2009, as Teesside’s best restaurant.”
Roberto Pittalis, previously co-owner of Sassari, once of Durham’s Sadler Street and later on Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road, owes his latest success to his employees.
“When people ask what is our secret, I think the most important thing for us now is the team,” he said.
“My investment in the restaurant is all in people. I spend a huge amount of time and energy trying to find the right team.
“Our managers now are on the same level as me, the rest is cosmetic.
“What makes me really proud is the team is very eclectic and dynamic with ideas, they participate in the running of the business.
“I think we have some future restaurateurs here within our team. I love to pass on my skills and knowledge to them.
Café Lilli, with its staff of 27, has built up a loyal customer base and welcomes new customers daily, offering a fusion between modern cuisine with an Italian influence.
Bookings aren’t available after 7pm on weekends, but you can just pop in and have a drink whilst they prepare your table after this time. Bookings available all night Tuesday – Thursday. Call 01642 554422 or visit www.lillicafe.co.uk