We sat down with Victor Ravdive, CEO, Creative Director and Executive Chef to speak about his work at Piazza Italiana.
Q. What inspired you to become a restauranteur?
A. During my teenage years I never considered being a restauranteur as I had my heard set on being a professional ice hockey player. However, after sustaining a serious injury at the age of 17, I was no longer able to play the sport. So, I had to quickly re-group and choose a new career path. I had always loved organising parties and excursions for my school and after a bit of research, I found a BA education degree in hospitality and events management. I was lucky enough to have parents who supported my decision to go to the Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS)
After graduating from Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS), I wanted to venture into implementing my experience and knowledge in a more practical sense. While at SHMS, I was working alongside some of the world’s best chefs, and it made me aspire to build an empire of successful restaurants that serves delicious food and offer exceptional service.
I opened my first restaurant in Riga in 2012 and then over the following 10 years opened more than 30 different food and beverage concepts before expanding to London in 2020 with Piazza Italiana.
Q. Tell us about the concept of creating a restaurant in a former linen bank?
A. Piazza Italiana is one of our most successful concepts and we are so proud of it. We knew we wanted to open an Italian Restaurant in London, but we didn’t have a venue in mind.
It took almost a year to find the premises as, before Covid, it was almost impossible to find something in London that had the potential of being successful. We had done numerous premise viewings before finding the linen bank and so when we viewed it, we immediately knew it was perfect. The building had been remade for a restaurant functionality, had a stunning interior and at the time, the City was booming.
Q. Did you change much of the interior design and If so, how did you come up with the concept?
A. When we acquired the space, our challenge was to integrate a new design while appreciating and celebrating the grand opulence of the existing architecture – high ornate ceilings, large open floor space, floor-to-ceiling arched windows, and listed panelling from the bank desks.
The colour palettes and materiality we chose create a plush intimate space include dark, rich wood of the joinery and bar counters, and the bespoke marble tops. These are contrasted by the soft tones of upholstery, sheer curtains, textured walls, and striking lighting.
Luckily, the previous occupiers of the space also ran a restaurant, which saved us a big chunk of the budget on the restructuring and building from scratch. In the main dining space, we designed bespoke joinery, wine display units, and luxurious marble-top dividers with brass finishes.
Q. You menu is rich and indulgent and a real treat for Italian food lovers. Where do you take inspiration from for the menu?
A. The most amazing thing about cooking is that its development never stops. Every year there are new trends and new cooking techniques. The industry develops fast and is very diverse.
Remo Mazzucato, is a genius in Italian culinary, and he created the first menu at Piazza Italiana. With every menu revision we make, we use his traditional techniques as a base and modernise them in alignment with current trends.
Q. What are the challenges you face as a restaurant in such a competitive dining scene?
A. Even though all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the city still hasn’t got back to the pre-COVID and this affects us as a business. This is most apparent on Mondays and Fridays, which are days when people typically work from home and away from the city.
This led us to launch the most popular bottomless brunch in city on Saturdays.
Q. What are your biggest achievements since opening in the City?
A. We have achieved so much since opening in 2020 and I am so thankful and proud of my team, and to my partners for supporting my vision. We have not only survived but thrived through some very difficult times – from Covid, through to the rising energy and food prices, the cost of living crisis, and hybrid working culture.
Q. Which other Italian restaurants do you admire most in the City?
A. Although there are other brilliant Italian restaurants in the City, Piazza Italiana in my opinion is the best.
Q. What do you love about having a Restaurant in the City?
A. There is a different atmosphere in the City, instead of tourists diners you see guests enjoying formal business lunches in our stunning venue.
Q. What can diners expect from Piazza Italiana for the upcoming Christmas season?
A. We have several amazing festive menus that will cater for all budgets and group sizes and three private dining spaces. So, whether you’re looking for a small intimate dinner or office Christmas party we have something for everyone.
Q. What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2023?
A. Our menus are changing every season reflecting the top seasonal ingredients from the market. We are currently hosting a bottomless brunch every Saturday where diners can enjoy bottomless pizza, pasta and drinks and have a fun themed Halloween Bottomless Brunch next weekend.
We are also really excited about our Christmas offering this year, we are proud to be hosting everything from Christmas parties for businesses to intimate Christmas lunches for family and friends to enjoy.
We have also just launched bottomless drinks (beer, prosecco, and Bellini’s) on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm to bring a little bit of extra joy to people’s weekends!