How did Casamia come about – an Italian named restaurant, run by a Spanish family, serving modern British Food.
Like most stories in this industry, it kinda started as a result of an accient. In 1999 Paco (our dad) found himself working on the building for a new restaurant opening, painting and decorating. After a twist of fate, Paco was presented with the opportunity to open the restaurant himself and the rest..as he says..is history.
With Sue’s (our mum) support, they made the crazy decision to up-sticks, leave their 9-5 jobs and open the restaurant. Within a few months they opened Casamia, a neighbourhood trattoria serving traditional pizza and pasta dishes in Westbury-on-Trym.
Jonray and I were still at school then, and it wasn’t until one night when our Chef walked out, and Dad was really in the sh*t that I stepped in to help. I had no experience and didn’t know an artichoke from an aubergine, but I was a greedy boy and knew what tasted nice. Jonray quickly joined me and from day one it just worked. We became obsessed with reading books from Gordon Ramsay, xx and xx, watching YouTube videos to learn new techniques and questioning everything. The first thing we did was strip the menu back, to get rid of any ingredients that weren’t fresh. And then began transforming Casamia to how we wanted it, and what it is today, causing mum a few sleepless nights along the way.
In 2004 Jonray and I decided to venture out on our own, leave Bristol and open Fratelli in Cheltenham. It wasn’t quite the success we had hoped for, but luckily we were welcomed back to Casamia, with a lot of life lessons learnt. We came back to Casamia with a real sense of clarity and that, coupled with being back in our home town with our family, made us more determined than ever. Our efforts were rewarded in 2009 when we were awarded our Michelin star. This really put us on the map – the phone started ringing like crazy and it was great to know that an organisation we so respect, thought we were good. But the most important thing the star did for us was fuel our determination to continue to push our boundaries, to progress and go as far as we can.
Over the next 10 years refinement and consistency were our buzz words. Further reducing our menus to only one set menu, no options, was probably the scariest moment. This was pretty unusual in the country and particularly so in Bristol. But we stuck to our guns and to be honest, haven’t regretted it for a minute. During this time some incredible awards came our way, with 4AA Rosettes and both of us being named Chefs of the Year in the Good Food Guide 2015.
In 2014 we made the life changing decision for our family again and began plans to relocate Casamia to our current home. We needed a place where the physical restaurant would reflect the creativity and refinement we work so hard to achieve with our food, and we were lucky enough to find this at The General. As well as relocating Casamia, we decided to begin plans to return to our roots and open our long awaited pizzeria – Pi Shop.
In January 2016 our dreams became a reality and we opened Casamia in its new home. With Pi Shop opening 6 months later, and our third venture – Paco Tapas – opening in November 2016.
Casamia at The General has realised so many of our dreams, but most importantly it is a space where our creativity isn’t limited in any way. This was most recently realised with us being awarded 5AA Rosettes in 2016 and being voted Regional winners for the South West in the Sunday Times Top Restaurants List. I truly feel this is the place where I can continue Jonary and my journey, our plan; it’s the place where I can make him proud.