Web development never tasted so good.
I was first told to visit Cafe Class in Woking on the condition that I didn't tell anyone else about it.
"Why not?" I asked?
"Because we won't be able to get in ourselves if everybody knows," was the response.
I went with two friends for the first visit and was blown away by the food, and then it progressed until just before Christmas, we ended up with a table of twenty-eight. So much for discretion.
They have this antipasti menu; it's the equivalent of a tapas menu, but the Italian version. You get 15 dishes, they just keep coming, you have to say no more, it's too much, and the flavours are to die for. Seriously, it's gorgeous food, and the wine is always served at just the right temperature.
You can eat from the regular menu if you like, but not knowing what will arrive at your table next is really good, and you learn so much about the food. The great thing is that if you go a few days later, what comes out will be a variation of the tapas that you had before, so you get to try new dishes.
Fortuitously (relevant to my broken promise), the restaurant has more than doubled its seating capacity since I first went there.
Pre web development, I spent 22 years in the hospitality business; restaurants, hotels, American diners, airports, and one way or another over antipasto, pasta, red wine, macchiato, and the odd limoncello we, Domenico and I, got talking and as a result, we developed the Cafe-class.co.uk website.
Double Macchiato anyone?
Obviously, it meant repeat visits, perhaps more than was required, but it was all in the line of duty, I tell you!
Anyway, we have launched the site, and within a week, the bookings are coming in thick and fast, and New Year is already booked up.
The website is mobile responsive and is developed in PHP. It is populated by a content management system that is also mobile responsive and caters for bookings, dedicated event bookings, invites subscriptions, and is social media-friendly.
So, I went to Italy
The last time I was in Italy was in 1999 on my honeymoon.
What with the food, the ambiance, the music and of course the Italian patronage that is all part of the dining experience at Cafe Class, I have to admit that it persuaded me to take another trip, first of all to Bologna* in Nothern Italy and then down to Bari** and from there another half an hour or so drive in the direction of Brindisi to visit friends in Fasano.
I have always meant to go to Bologna to see some of the 38kms of porticos that are a feature of the city since reading in John Grisham's thriller "The Broker," set in Bologna.
The portico leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca Basilica
I wasn't disappointed, populated by joggers on the city's outskirts and utilised by restaurants with the whole city was a real treat, the heat, the shade, the gelaterias, the aperitivo, the architecture and the food of course.
Aperitivo, It's just so civilized...
Time for an aperitivo, a glass of prosecco perhaps or an Aperol; Prosecco and seltzer water on ice and served with a wedge of orange is Italy's most popular aperitif and just to keep hunger at bay whilst you people-watch until dinner some olives, some focaccia, bruschetta, some meats, parma ham perhaps and some cheeses.
In Bologna, it is a complete buzz, and it is easy to forget that dinner is yet to come.
Ice Cream Parlours
I didn't "get" the recent profusion of gelaterias in Woking until I went to Italy, and I must admit, I am still not sure about how enduring they will be in the UK.
In Bari, however, at 10 pm in late August, the whole world was on the street, queuing at gelaterias. Then with boyfriends, husbands, and pushchairs in tow, the ladies engage in animated discussions over the shoe shops window displays. I just can't quite see it after a pint in the UK somehow, but perhaps that's just me, but I suspect it's a heat thing.
Dining out in Bari.
So from agreeing not to tell anybody else and despite the restaurant's expansion, with the development of the website, I seem to be telling the whole world.
But the food just has that "extra." It's the real deal; you could be in Italy (no, not the weather)
I think I'm going to have to book a table and get my fix!
It's a worry!
*Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous and one of the wealthiest cities in Italy.
**Bari is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea and, according to Wikipedia is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples.