He’s served up steak to the most infamous jaws in football and hobnobbed with one of the managerial maestros of the Champions League and now Andrea Miacola is bringing his restaurant skills to North Wales’s football capital.
The 34-year-old from Turin, a Juventus fan, is supervising the re-opening of Belushimo, to bring a taste of Italy to Wrexham’s High Street as pandemic lockdown eases.
Andrea came to the UK ten years ago after working in restaurants across Italy from the age of 16 and he said: “I came here to learn English and I stayed.”
He has spent much of his time in Liverpool where he met many of the stars of both the city’s famous football clubs, with Reds striker Luis Suarez a frequent visitor to the Bem Brazil restaurant in Hanover Street.
He would also chat to ex-Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, a European Cup-winner as player and manager, in their native Italian at San Carlo in Castle Street.
Andrea said: “Luis Suarez was always very nice and liked to bring his family to the restaurant – he loved the Cheesy Steak we did – but lots of the footballers used to visit there and San Carlo, including Philippe Coutinho, and celebrities like Beyoncé.
“I met Carlo Ancelotti many times and he always liked to have a chat, He is charming and used to manage Juventus, my home town club.”
Wrexham is also a football town, home of the oldest professional club in Wales and the third oldest in the world, and Andrea is hoping the stardust from the takeover of the club by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny will be sprinkled on the area.
Belushimo is alongside its sister restaurant, the Frisky Pudding, on Wrexham’s High Street, and has a more European vibe with tables on the pavement outside and a relaxed feel as well as an impressive selection of wines from across Italy and beyond.
The two properties used to house the Regional HQ of Barclays Bank until ten years ago but have now switched from finance to food and drink courtesy of a £1 million investment by businessman John Blaney who has made them the hub of a new café quarter in the town.
John has been involved in construction and property development all his working life as part of the family firm, Clydesdale Project Management Ltd.
Nine years ago he restored a 17th century building and opened an acclaimed gastro pub, the White Bear in Middlewich, in Cheshire, which he has sold to fund the investment in Wrexham.
He explained: “I chose Wrexham because the town centre has so much potential and we had something different to offer.
“Lots of people in Wrexham go for nights out to Chester and our aim is to persuade them to stay closer to home.”
He brought in Andrea for his expertise in running high quality restaurants but in the meantime something else has changed since Belushimo was last open – Andrea and his wife, Erika, who is from Sicily, have been joined by son Christian, now four months old.
The couple met when they were working together at the San Carlo restaurant in Liverpool and Andrea said: “I was the manager but she was the boss. Usually I tell the staff what to do but Erika would always tell me what to do.
“Now Christian is here with us too but of course our families back home in Italy haven’t been able to see him properly yet but hopefully that will not be too much longer.
“But Wrexham is a lovely town with friendly people and already we have our regulars and it’s nice to be away from a big city like Liverpool and restaurants serving up to 1,000 customers a day.
“We love it here, it’s very friendly, we enjoy the local market and we want to use local produce so we have Italian dishes made with top quality local produce.
“We aim to cut down on the food miles so we get all our meat from a local farmer and butcher, Stanley Jones, so it’s Welsh food with an Italian flavour and a wine list, including Italian classics, that complements it.
“The aim is for a relaxed atmosphere and you can just come in for a drink or to try our cocktails. It was going well before the last lockdown and it’s already picking up again.”
Head chef Nick Rushforth is from Chester, and has wide experience having cooked extensively in Italy, Austria and Greece and he works with Andrea to source the best of local Welsh produce and to create a flavour of Italy on the menu.
He said: “I really enjoy the Italian style we cook, everyone loves it and we even add an American flavour with our surf’n’turf combination of steak and king prawns.”
Belushimo is at 38-41 High St, Wrexham, and for more information and to book go to https://friskypudding.co.uk/belushimo/