Antonio Cillo is one of the younger members of an Italian family that has established Liverpool restaurants such as Il Forno and his own venture – Brunchin’ – is off to a flying start. Tony McDonough reports
A restaurant and juice bar in Liverpool that was originally forced to close last December shortly after its launch due to COVID is now back up and running and proving a hit.
And the founder of Brunchin’, Antonio Cillo, brings a string pedigree to the business. His extended family is behind the city’s most successful Italian food businesses, including Paolo & Donato’s Deli, Il Forno and Crust.
Brunchin’ is a 70-capacity venue located on the first floor of Antionio’s father’s established P&D Deli off Williamson Square in Richmond Street. It offers treats such as smashed avocado on toast, chai tea lattes, fresh fruit smoothies as well as a selection of vegan and gluten free options and light bites.
Its team produces an impressive 350 breakfasts a day, while it’s private dining area has become a prime location for baby showers and even wedding receptions over the last few weeks.
After completing his degree in Business Management last May, Antonio, 22, wanted to break away from tradition and bring a “trendy aesthetic” to his family’s hospitality portfolio.
He explained: “Once I completed my degree, my father told me I had the choice to join the family business, but if I did, I needed to do things my own way, create something entirely my own.
“I have grown up in the restaurant environment, and around traditional Italian cuisine, it’s all I know. And yet, I knew with my own venture I wanted to create something a bit different. Putting more of a focus on healthier, lighter options and freshly made smoothies, we created something that could be enjoyed by my generation.”
At Brunchin’, Italian classics such as bruschetta, served on sourdough made from its six-year-old starter, and traditional pasta dishes are mixed with vegan breakfast options, warming soups and a colourful juice bar.
Antonio added: “We’ve had a great start and the feedback has been brilliant. We really care about what we offer people when they come to experience Brunchin’ and for us, it’s about a quality experience and making everyone and anyone feel welcome.”
Antonio’s father Donato has been serving the city of Liverpool traditional Italian favourites for more than 10 years and all of the food, including cakes, pastries and savoury dishes featured on the Brunchin’ menu, are made in house from their extensive Italian team in the same building’s fourth floor, which is also known as the ‘food lab’.
His mum Antonietta heads up a team of bakers who start each day at 2am to ensure they have the produce that’s needed. Donato said: “Despite the difficult year, and the fact that four days after originally opening, Brunchin’ had to shut down for months and months, the restaurant has thrived, and we’re excited for what the future holds.
“What I know is Italian cuisine and culture, but I trusted Antonio and his vision; he knew what he wanted to do and that there was a market for it, and it has clearly paid off.”