Exclusive Interviews

Russell Norman discusses the opening of POLPO Leeds

POLPO opens next week in Leeds (we can’t wait) and to celebrate, we’ve grabbed a few words with POLPO founder Russell Norman.

Q: Russell, POLPO has been a huge hit wherever it’s gone. What do you hope it will bring to the thriving Leeds food scene?

A: We never take anything for granted and always make sure we work very hard at achieving success with new restaurants. With Leeds, for example, my entire management team are moving to the city for the week before and the week after opening. We’ve got a dozen rooms booked in Travelodge and we will be working our socks off to make sure everything goes brilliantly. We hope POLPO brings a bit of Venice’s incredible mojo to the city.

Q: What makes Venetian regional food stand out from the arguably more well known areas like Tuscany and Sicily?

A: Venice is an island, well, a collection of islands, and its close relationship with the sea is manifested in the food of the region too. Great fish dishes like fritto misto and cuttlefish in its ink and the delicious signature of the bàcari: creamed, whipped salt cod infused with garlic and parsley.

Q: Your menu offers diners a great selection of small plates to try out. Are there any on the menu that are your personal favourites? 

A: Even though they are not regionally authentic, I love our pizzettas. My favourite is the simplest, pizzetta Bianca, made with mozzarella, parmesan, red onions and thyme.

Q: In many of your other restaurants, reservations are not taken in the evenings. Will this be the case as well at POLPO in Harvey Nichols? 

A: At POLPO Leeds we are taking reservations for lunch and dinner. It’s the first time we have ever done this. We will always keep half our tables back for walk-ins, but for the first time ever in a POLPO restaurant, you can book for dinner.

Q: Yorkshire offers some of the finest produce in the world. Have you been able to make use of this for your menu?

A: Absolutely. It has always been our philosophy to use local produce. It makes me slightly angry when I hear some chefs and restaurant operators boast “we fly our tomatoes in from Naples every day”. Why? In season, English tomatoes are fantastic. Authenticity is about staying true to culinary traditions and philosophy, it’s not about getting food shipped halfway across the planet.

If Russell has tempted you into wanting to book you can do so here.

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