Food for thought as Al Forno expands

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AJ Al Forno

The owners of one of Teesside’s most well-known restaurants are looking to mark its 10th anniversary by extending their Middlesbrough venue, where mouth-watering new options are on the menu.

Al Forno plans to add to its ever-popular Italian bistros in Middlesbrough and Darlington with two new North-East restaurants before the end of 2016.

“We will would like to open two more restaurants this year,” said co-owner Erdal ‘AJ’ Kuzgun, who runs the restaurants with partner Liam Percy. “We have a couple of places in mind.

“Our champagne bar alongside our Darlington bistro works well, so we’re looking at more places where a champagne and cocktail bar will work alongside a restaurant.”

And their venue on Southfield Road in Middlesbrough – winner of Teesside’s best restaurant award in both 2014 and 2016 – is set for a transformation too.

“We plan to invest £70,000 to increase the size of the restaurant by another eight metres to allow us to extend our bistro and café offering,” said AJ, who recently welcomed operations manager Paul Rowntree to Al Forno’s 70-strong team, a Michelin chef with has worked as a consultant to both Manchester City FC and Walker’s Crisps.

Al Forno inside

“Once we do that, we’ll also produce fresh pasta here on the Al Forno premises, with customers able to see it being made. I believe that will be unique in Middlesbrough and fits perfectly with our slogan of ‘Fresh is best’, which is the belief on which we’ve built our reputation over these past 10 years. All of our products are cooked fresh using local suppliers.”

New on the menu are even more healthy choices, all freshly produced in the Al Forno kitchen.

Another recent addition is an Italian-style afternoon tea featuring mouth-watering cured hams and delicious pastries.

And there’s a novel family-orientated Sunday lunch option too.

AJ explained: “In Italy meal times are all about the family, so we have introduced new Sunday lunch platter for two adults and two children. They get a massive tray of roast beef, roast lamb, chicken, Yorkshires and all the veg, just like home. They can then help themselves.”

• To book a table at Al Forno in Middlesbrough, call 01642 242191 or visit


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