Food legend to open Italian deli and ice-cream cafe in centre of York

·3-min read
The new cafe will be in the former Bert and May tile shop. It will be called Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato and run by local restaurateur Paolo Silesu
The new cafe will be in the former Bert and May tile shop. It will be called Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato and run by local restaurateur Paolo Silesu

YORK food legend Paolo Silesu is to open a new deli and ice-cream cafe in York - just metres away from his popular Sardinian restaurant Il Paradiso del Cibo.

Paolo, who first launched his Il Paradiso business in Walmgate in 2003, will unveil his newest venture this summer when Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato opens.

The 51-year-old has taken on a ten-year lease of the former Bert and May tile shop in Walmgate, at its junction with Fossgate and Merchantgate.

Paolo told The Press he had wanted to open a deli and cafe selling gelato (Italian ice-cream) for a while and had been waiting for the right premises to come up.

Food lovers with long memories will remember that when Il Paradiso del Cibo (translated from Italian as food heaven) first opened it was a deli and take-away and only later became a restaurant, celebrated for its traditional and home-made dishes.

York Press: Flashback to 2004 when Paolo Silesu first opened Il Paradiso del Cibo on Walmgate as a deli and take-away
York Press: Flashback to 2004 when Paolo Silesu first opened Il Paradiso del Cibo on Walmgate as a deli and take-away

Flashback to 2004 when Paolo Silesu first opened Il Paradiso del Cibo on Walmgate as a deli and take-away

Paolo said: "A lot of people were asking about the original place all the time and remembered how we started. I realised there was nowhere quite like that in York and I thought a deli and ice-cream place would do well in this street."

And he was determined not to stray too far from his main base in Walmgate. "I wanted it to be here. I have been working for more than 20 years in restaurants in Fossgate and Walmgate, including at Rish and the Blue Bicycle."

He said the new Il Paradiso cafe would be called Dolce e Salato (which means sweet and savoury in Italian), because that is the type of food he will be selling.

Besides 20 flavours of gelato, there will be a selection of artisan breads and sweet and savoury pastries as well as cakes and small sweet treats and pizza slices to go. Paolo plans to sell pouches of fried vegetables, arancini (stuffed, Italian rice balls) and filled panini featuring cheese and meats imported from Italy. Everything will be handmade on the premises or at Il Paradiso del Cibo.

York Press: Paolo Silesu and Elisa Peterle outside the new premises which will be Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato
York Press: Paolo Silesu and Elisa Peterle outside the new premises which will be Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato

Paolo Silesu and Elisa Peterle outside the new premises which will be Il Paradiso Dolce e Salato

The cafe will have seating for 20 and the hope is to offer catering to local offices too.

Paolo imagines it will create between three to five jobs.

General manager will be fellow Sardinian Elisa Peterle, an accomplished pastry chef, who will also be making the gelato in machines especially imported from Italy.

She said: "I am very excited. Making pastry is my hobby - so it is unbelievable to be doing this for my job!"

The cafe will be open daily from around 8.30am to 9pm. Paolo hopes it will be ready to launch at the start of August.

The restaurateur also runs a second restaurant, Il Paradiso on the Forest, at Sutton on the Forest just outside York with 100 covers. He sold his Il Paradiso restaurant in Leeds in February 2020.

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