STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
The Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group (The DRG) is Scotland’s largest independently owned restaurant operator and a truly family business, founded by Joe Conetta and his nephew, Mario Gizzi, in 1983 with the creation of the Glasgow institution, Di Maggio’s.
Thirty years later, Mario is still at the helm, co-managing the business with Joe’s son, Tony Conetta.
DRG is a dynamic and rapidly expanding company and now has 18 restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and 5 food court outlets in Scotland, Belfast and Manchester.
Brands within the DRG include Di Maggio’s, Café Andaluz, Amarone, Barolo, The Anchor Line, Atlantic and Cadiz.
As dining habits changed and the market trend for eating great restaurant food at home became firmly entrenched, Di Maggio’s created their own delivery and collection business with a dedicated call centre, online portal and take away app to meet the huge demand for its food.
Smaller food court units followed in shopping malls with locations in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast and Manchester.
In 2002, Joe Conetta’s love of Andalucía in southern Spain, inspired the creation of their next concept, Café Andaluz, serving the best Spanish tapas using a heady mix of imported Spanish speciality foods and great Scottish ingredients. The brief was to transport customers from a wet and windy Glaswegian day to the warm and relaxed environment of a Spanish tapas restaurant in the hills and valleys of Andalucía and its success was a testament to a brief well met.
Going back to the family’s Italian roots, The DRG opened Amarone in Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place. With Di Maggio’s filling the neighbourhood Italian pizzeria and ristorante market, Amarone challenges the public perception of what an Italian restaurant should be by placing it in a definitively stylish and modern environment with a menu that showcases firm favourites, side by side with the best that contemporary Italy has to offer, winning it many awards in the coming years.
In 2008, The DRG secured its first location in Edinburgh and opened Café Andaluz in historic George Street, followed by Amarone in 2011 in a landmark building on St Andrew Square. Both concepts were an instant success and have become favourite dining destinations for locals and tourists alike.
When L’Ariosto, Glasgow’s oldest Italian restaurant, came up for sale in 2011, it was an obvious choice for The DRG. Later re-launched as Barolo Grill, with a menu specialising in cooking prime Scottish cuts with an Italian flavour plus great pizza cooked in a traditional firestone pizza oven, Barolo Grill has established itself as ones of Glasgow’s hidden gems. An extensive wine list offering the best of the Barolo region compliments the uncompromisingly Italian menu.
In 2013, Aberdeen was added to The DRG’s list of city locations with the opening of Amarone in Union Street. Café Andaluz followed in 2015 with the addition of a large cocktail bar allowing customers to choose from just a drink and a light bite, a full meal or of course, both.
Back in Glasgow, Mario and Tony had singled out the old ‘White Building’ in St Vincent Place, the former first class booking office of Glasgow’s iconic, Anchor Line Shipping Company, which had been lying empty for decades. After a massive restoration of the A1 listed building’s ground floor, repairing, preserving and replacing huge amounts of stucco plasterwork, wood panelling and marble floors, The DRG opened its flagship location, The Anchor Line Bar and Grill.
With walls covered with Anchor Line memorabilia, original menus, photos, tickets and passenger lists, the luxurious and historic surroundings are in turn complemented by a Trans-Atlantic menu, wine and cocktail list. The cocktail bar has become a firm favourite with the Glasgow in-crowd who know that the bartenders can and will make absolutely any cocktail ever made and a few new ones as well.
The basement level of The Anchor Line building was a huge unused space and in 2015, Atlantic Bar and Brasserie was launched. Taking inspiration from the buildings history, Atlantic Brasserie was named after the venue created by The Anchor Line Shipping Company for the Empire Exhibition in 1938, held in Bellahouston Park.
Atlantic Bar and Brasserie is a thoroughly French affair, designed to echo a plush Parisian brasserie combined with some original features from the building’s former incarnation. Serving the best French food and wine in the city, with a rotisserie as the kitchen’s centrepiece, customers can enjoy everything from French onion soup to escargots and Provencal rotisserie chicken to Boeuf Bourguignon. The large bar echoes the cocktail bar upstairs at The Anchor Line serving French themed cocktails and the definitive French wine list.
The latest addition to The DRG family is Cadiz, a seafood restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town serving the best Scottish seafood with a definitively Spanish flavour. The restaurant has a relaxed contemporary design that is light and airy but at the same time, cosy and intimate. Launched in July this year, Cadiz becomes the newest member of a well-established and successful restaurant portfolio that shows no sign of slowing down with new sites and concepts planned for 2017 and maybe even their first restaurant south of the border. Watch this space!
Mario Gizzi and Tony Conetta have created and developed a highly skilled and loyal team around them to grow the company their family founded. The DRG employs over 900 people, but has not lost the personal feel of a family owned and run business.