Gianluca Tozzi and Jack Booth opened their Norman Road seafood restaurant during challenging times. Here Jack tells Steven Short how they did it. 

Where are you from and when did you move to St Leonard’s? 

Gianluca was born in Manfredonia, Puglia, Southern Italy. I’m from Leeds, Yorkshire. We both moved to St Leonards in 2015 inde-pendently and met each other here.

You recently celebrated your first birthday – what was it like being a new restaurant during the pandemic? 

It’s been challenging to say the least. It wasn’t intentional to open during a pandemic as the whole process started in November of 2019. We finally got the keys in July 2020 and opened in August. 

Were locals supportive? 

More than supportive. We’ve made friendships for life since opening our small restaurant. I think locals support us because they understand our concept. We use as much local and seasonal fish as possible, including fish that many people wouldn’t necessarily choose or know how to prepare. 

Why did you choose the name Galleria? 

A couple of reasons. Galleria translates to Gallery in Italian. Being on Norman Road and the epicentre of St Leonard’s, we’re surrounded by creatives, galleries, constant shows and pop ups. Also, we felt Galleria was a lovely way to showcase our food as an artform. It’s exactly the same as painting a canvas or taking a photograph, it’s just a different medium.

What can diners expect? 

First and foremost, we’re small and intimate and that’s what we like. We only seat 14 people so that we can take time with our customers. They get the full dining experience. It’s not about how fast someone can eat but rather about enjoying the simplicity of dining with us and appreciating the food and wines.

Tell us a couple of signature dishes… 

One of the popular dishes during the summer was the scallop carpaccio with pickled grapes, orange and vinaigrette. During summer we also introduced our Fruit de Mer, both for sharing and solo, which showcases a bit more what the sea has to offer. We also offer more traditional dishes, such as fritto misto and linguine vongole, which always prove popular.

You change your menu regularly – can you tell us what’s on for autumn?

We have just introduced a fish stew. It’s perfect for this time
of year. Autumn brings an array of lovely and colourful ingredients, from local squash and mush-rooms to fantastic herrings, cod, scallops. 

And you have an all-European wine list, because… 

Europe is on our doorstep and produces some of the best wines in the world. Considering our proximity to the continent, it makes sense. Reducing the carbon footprint is more than ever something we should all think about. We have wines from Sussex, too, and actually held our first tasting menu (six-course) with paired wines in collaboration with a local vineyard. 

What are your plans for the rest of 2021 and beyond? 

We are big believers in supporting local. We want to offer more tasting menus and other events to show-case local produce, especially the fish. We have a few ideas which
 we will hopefully try out at the beginning of next year. In the meantime, our winter opening days are Tuesday – Saturday and we offer a set lunch Tuesday to Thursday, as well as our regular short à la carte menu the rest of the time.

You can find Galleria at 39 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-sea.

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