THE END OF AN ERA
It might be the end of an era as one of Ilkley’s best-loved restaurants Emporio Italia brings down the curtain on their evening service, but fans of the popular Italian diner can still look forward to enjoying their favourite dishes at lunchtime, on special occassions or in
the comfort of their own home.
For over 30 years the name Luigi Pignanelli has been synonymous with some of the finest and most authentic Italian food available in Yorkshire.
It is a reputation that has seen his famous Ilkley restaurant Emporio Italia become one of the biggest success stories on the local culinary scene with reservations booked up months in advance.
But now after 18 years of cooking up a storm single-handedly in the cosy family eatery and 15 years prior to that in other local Italian restaurants, Luigi has decided the time has come to hang up his pots and pans in the evening and spend more time with his family – with a second grandchild on the way.
It is a decision he was reluctant to take but one that at the age of 68 and having survived a liver transplant in 2017, he accepts is the right one to take.
Talking shortly after his final evening shift at the end of August, Luigi said: “The past 18 years at Emporio have given me some of the most wonderful nights of my life and our customers have become life-long friends who it has been a pleasure to cook for.
“But I think the time has come when I need to slow down and take some time to enjoy my wonderful family who have supported me and the restaurant so incredibly over the years.”
Anybody who has dined at Emporio will testify to the rave reviews it always receives and that is down largely to the passion of Luigi who creates some of the most mouth-watering dishes, lovingly passed down to him from his parents and grandparents while growing up in Calabria.
Since launching Emporio in 2005, Luigi estimates he has served in the region of 600,000 customers and a total of about 800,000 dishes which every evening he would passionately explain to diners before heading back into the kitchen to work his magic.
Dining at Emporio has always been far more than going for a meal, it is pure Italian theatre served up on a plate with such heart that it’s hard to imagine you’re anywhere other than a Tuscan taverna and it is an experience that will be sorely missed on an evening.
But moving forward the good news for regulars, is that his delicious menu will still be available at lunchtimes and returning to the evenings on special occasions throughout the year including Christmas.
From Tuesday to Saturday, Luigi, alongside his wife Sam, their children Gianluca and Fabrizia plus the dedicated team who work there, will be open from 12pm for two lunchtime sittings.
In addition, the team will also be taking bookings for private functions and outside catering for any big celebrations.
Luigi added: “I can’t thank all our customers enough for their support over the years and I look forward to continuing cooking for you in the restaurant or the comfort of your own home.
For a man who has spent a lifetime putting his heart and soul into his greatest passion, we wish him buona fortuna e grazie.
To book a lunchtime table at Emporio Italia or enquire about their upcoming events or private dining services, please call 01943 608797 or follow them on instagram.
Emporio Italia, Railway Road, Ilkley LS29 8HQ
T: 01943 608797 | W: emporio-italia.co.uk