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Flying Pizza, San Carlo

Paul Clarke grows wings

Written by . Published on May 25th 2011.


Flying Pizza, San Carlo

FATHER and son restaurateurs Carlo and Marcello Distefano have turned the San Carlo group into Britain’s biggest independent purveyors of top quality Italian grub, but sentiment has never entered into it - until now.

“I’ve always said we must have city centre sites, but I really wanted to try something new with Flying Pizza and restore it to its former glories,” he says as we crack lobster shells.

They have sunk £1 million into the iconic, but faded ,Flying Pizza in Roundhay, where both spent many happy Sundays when they lived in the Leeds suburb.

“When I first came to England in 1967 I lived in Leeds, which was then far ahead of Manchester in the pizza business, and I was there on the first day the Flying Pizza opened,” recalls the ever affable Carlo.

“I spent every Sunday there with my family when we lived in Roundhay and I learnt a lot from Genero who owned the place.”

Over a beautifully cooked starter of mixed spaghetti - which is reminder how other chains get that basic dish so very wrong, - Marcello told Confidential that he also has very fond memories of the Flying Pizza when he ate there as a young lad.

“I remember standing outside the Flying Pizza looking at the Rolls Royces and Ferraris, so you can imagine how exciting that was for a seven year old,” he smiled as he recalled those heady days.

“My father used to take us there every week and it was the place to be in Leeds at that time so we want to get back that family feel when we reopen.”

Our lunch was a chance for the Distefenos to give us a personal insight into their plans for the renamed San Carlo’s Flying Pizza, and to prove the point Marcello grabbed a laptop to show us a 3D plan of his venture.

“As you can see it’s got a very modern feel as Flying Pizza was looking a bit tired.  We’ve put in a bar area, which we think is important, and we will have an open kitchen with a gas flame pizza oven,” Marcello says.

But these guys didn’t create a £22m turnover empire - so popular with Premier League footballers, - without being sticklers for detail.

“Ah, those chairs will be a little more orange but you get the idea, it’s full of light colours and we want it to be very family friendly.”

IMAG0090.jpgAlthough Confidential was slightly distracted by a mouth-watering mountain of seafood that arrived at the table, our ears perked up when Carlo told us San Carlo’s Flying Pizza is their first outlet in the suburbs.

“I’ve always said we must have city centre sites, but I really wanted to try something new with Flying Pizza and restore it to its former glories,” he says as we crack lobster shells.

With such a significant investment in their first trip out of their city centre comfort zone they are wheeling out the big guns to make it work, bringing up the head chef from their Signor Sassi restaurant in Knightsbridge to oversee the menu.

“We’ve made our name on top quality produce, a lot of which we now we import from Italy, so wanted a menu to match what we know is a very well established eating culture in Leeds,” says Marcello.

“There may be some nostalgia in buying Flying Pizza, but it was the best restaurant in Leeds in the 1980s and 1990s so we know that we can bring that back to Roundhay.”

Ultimately it will be the food that will make or break Flying Pizza and we ploughed our way through the seafood it is clear standards in the kitchen will be high. The lightly grilled scallops were done to perfection with a delicious meaty texture, the langoustine so good it was a shame they are so little and the lobster seemed to melt on the tongue.

But the last word should go Carlo who is going back to his roots to a city where he first made his home when he arrived in England.

“I’ve opened 16 or 17 restaurants in my career but I really believe in this one and I’m determined to make it work.”

And you wouldn’t bet against them pulling it off with their track record.

* Confidential will be back with a full restaurant review when San Carlo’s Flying Pizza reopens next month.

 

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KathleenJuly 2nd 2011.

THEY WERE RUBBISH. THE FRONT OF RESTAURANT STAFF WERE ARROGANT & RUDE. I HOPE THE LOCAL COMPETITION TAKES THEM TO THE CLEANERS. TELEPHONE REQUESTS FOR RESERVATIONS ARE ONLY ACCEPTED FOR 4 OR MORE PEOPLE. HOW DARE THEY DISCRIMATE AGAINST POTENTIONAL CLIENTS

KathleenJuly 2nd 2011.

Poor service. Nasty staff. Not a good customer experience

1 Response: Reply To This...
JohnSeptember 11th 2012.

SHUT IT IDIOT!! I bet YOU are the "COMPETITION"!!

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