For those that have lived in Peterborough over the last 30 years or so, Topos will be a familiar (if not a slightly distant memory) name on the restaurant scene. Well that’s all set to change with a new ownership looking to clear out the cobwebs, give the interior a once-over and welcome back all the customers that it served so well over the years.
I can almost hear the naysayers naying that we already have too many Italian (and by that they mean pizza and pasta) restaurants in Peterborough – but they should remember that Topo Gigio was in Peterborough long before many of the other Italian restaurants.
As a child I can remember waiting upstairs at Topo Gigio (owned at the time by renowned Peterborough businessman Rinaldo Fasulo) with family in the building that is now Carluccios, browsing what seemed like a giant menu at the time (remember, I was barely out of short trousers!) waiting for our table to become ready. It was always a simple pepperoni pizza for me back then – and it still is today. The view of the kitchen from the restaurant dining room added to the hustle and bustle of one of most popular Italian restaurants in Peterborough at the time.
Fast-forward several years and Rinaldo moved the restaurant to Cowgate with a similar format of a bar upstairs with the dining room downstairs – I think I had a meal there for my 21st. A couple of years on and the restaurant changed hands just as it’s popularity waned and the chain pizzerias started to creep into Peterborough. The new owners tried to compete with the chain restaurants with Groupon promotions and even offering Piri-Piri chicken(?) but it wasn’t enough and the doors were closed.
Now, according to the Peterborough Telegraph Topos is set to return, this time under the ownership and direction of established restaurateur Michele Guarnaccia who also runs the cafe Barista on Bridge St next to St Peter’s Arcade.
There is definitely a gap in the market for a good, independent Italian restaurant in Peterborough city centre, certainly in the evening once Fratelli Tavola Calda in Rivergate is closed. We have the Pizza House further along on Cowgate but I hope Mick and his chefs can raise the bar and offer something a bit more interesting than the usual pizza and pasta dishes.
Peterborough city centre was once well catered for with independent Italian restaurants but over the years we’ve lost Avellinos, Calisi and more recently Riva (currently doing a roaring trade at it’s new home in Eye).
My concern would be that the recently revamped Cowgate doesn’t have much in the way of footfall especially not at the top end where Topo Gigios is, so to succeed it needs to become a destination restaurant to tempt diners away from ASK, Prezzo, PizzaExpress and Carluccios. Peterborough diners are becoming more discerning thanks to restaurants like Clarkes, so Topos could distance themselves from lunchtime buffets and the 2-4-1 deals offered by the chains and raise the bar for Italian cuisine in Peterborough.
A welcome return, lets hope Topo Gigios is back for another 30 years!