From shelling out for an authentic Neapolitan pizza oven to welcoming the likes to Danny Ings, it's been a whirlwind first few weeks for a new Italian restaurant in Burnely promising a dining experience like nothing else in the town.
Bringing a slice of sun-drenched Naples to East Lancashire, Ballaró has been earning rave reviews since it opened its doors earlier this month, widely praised for its food, decor, and ambience, with the restaurant's dynamic menu and fresh communal nature pleasing one and all.
Spearheaded by Francesco Tutrone and Antonio Vetrano, the owners of the similarly well-regarded Mondello's Ristorante in Crawshawbooth, Ballaró is located on Barracks Road on the site previously occupied by Kenank's Bar and Grill. With Kenank's becoming a takeaway-only establishment, Francesco and Antonio jumped at the chance to bring their winning formula to Burnley.
Boasting everything from a wood-burning pizza oven (which cooks a classic Neapolitan pizza in 75 seconds) to innovative Mediterranean tapas, Ballaró also offers premium steaks seared on lava rocks, a selection of seafood, and a spacious garden in which to enjoy their Italian draught beers and sample their brand new cocktail menu.
"I'm very pleased," said Francesco, who is - alongside Antonio, former Kenank's owner David Hankinson, and Ian Roberts - one of the four shareholders in the restaurant. "The menu has something for everyone, a little bit of everything, not just Italian: we have steaks, burgers, and Mediterranean tapas which are doing very well. People are enjoying it."
Praising the work of his team and singling out the contributions of cocktail maestro, Georgina Rose Veneri, and Neapolitan pizza chef, Gargiulo Nunzio, Francesco said: "They have been fantastic, really brilliant. They have done so much for the business - they're two of the main points to what we offer at Ballaró."
At the heart of the restaurant - literally and figuratively - is their stunning pizza oven at which Gargiulo works his magic, with David calling him "the best pizza chef in Burnley by a mile."
But Ballaró is much, much more than your typical Italian restaurant, according to Francesco, who points to their plans to develop the beer garden to incorporate a kids' play area, and BBQ facilities as evidence of their desire to really make Ballaró a family destination.
"We need to give people what they are looking for," explained Francesco. "Families are looking for a place like this."
Ballaró's opening hours are 16:00-22:00 (Monday-Thursday), 12:00-22:30 (Friday-Saturday), and 12:00-21:00 (Sunday). To book a table, call 01282 930 025. For more information, head to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BallaroBurnley/.