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Oliver opens new Italian - hit or miss?


Posted At: 11 June 2008 00:53 AM
Related Categories: General


With the financial climate of the UK as it currently is, the idea of affordable food is a welcome break from the horrors of rising costs in our supermarkets, but do we really need more restaurants clogging up our streets? Is eating out a luxury these days, or is it the alternative?

In most larger towns and certainly cities, there seems to be ‘affordable’ food on every corner – 2 meals for £7.19 in Wetherspoons, ‘Early Bird’ offers in Harvesters and ‘Tapas for a tenner’ at La Tasca , not to mention the trusted KFC, McDonalds and Burger King all still offering a burger, fries and a drink for [usually] under a fiver, so it was quite a shock to hear that Jamie Oliver has gone ahead with his plans for an ‘affordable Italian’ chain in opening his first location in Oxford this month.

Simply labelled ‘Jamie’s Italian’, Oliver aims to offer "fast, urban, casual dining" with meals ranging from around £5-£10 each.

I’ve no doubt people will go and see what all the fuss is about initially – anything the mockney puts his name to seems to be a sure fire hit – however I still have to question the decision to open such a restaurant in a high street environment not only feeling a consumer recession, but one that is already saturated with similar Italian-style eateries.

In a recent statement, Oliver insists: "There are some little places, privately owned by dedicated people, who are doing a good job but they are few and far between and I don't think many of the chains really give consistent quality at a decent price” (I suspect Altia Holdings, holding company of Ask and Zizzi , for example, would have something to say about that statement, but that’s another post!) but I’m not convinced.

Personally, not only am I all Italian-ed out (I can name at least 5 similar high street pasta restaurants off hand), but I also resent paying £10 for something that I can probably make at home for a fiver (something that Mr Oliver has been quick to advocate as part of his ‘feed your family for a fiver’ campaign with Sainsbury’s) and this is really the issue here – is eating out so intrinsically linked into our social makeup these days that money will always appear no object, or will we start to see the return of family meals around the table (or maybe the TV) in an effort to try and save some of our hard earned cash? Comment on this article below.

For more information on Jamies Italian or any of the restaurants mentioned in todays blog, please visit

Comments Comments (1) Twitter Twitter


Being a former resident of Brighton I really wish that he wouldn't open ANY MORE Italians in this area! No more pizza and pasta Oliver, its too much!

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