Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Azzari Too!

Your mouth just waters when you look at Azzari Too’s website – the food looks so inviting – and when welovebearwood heard on the grapevine that the restaurant had started selling fresh fish as well we just had to find out more. So last Saturday we popped down Lightwoods Road for a good old chat with Barry, Azzari Too’s genial owner and master chef.

We were intrigued to know where the name Azzari Too comes from so Barry explained that he named his daughter Azzari so the restaurant is named after her.  It means 'guided by God' in Hebrew.  Aaah, that's just lovely.

Azzari Too’s been open for 14 years now but it’s only been in the fishmonger business for the past few weeks. Why the new business? Well there are no fishmongers on Bearwood High Street and the sad looking specimens that you find in the supermarkets aren’t quite the same so Barry decided to venture into catching his own fresh produce (well not quite...there’s no sea in Bearwood...maybe the odd lake or two after all the rain...). All Barry’s fish comes fresh via Birmingham’s legendary markets and you can tell the difference straightaway. Salmon and plaice are definitely the best sellers and if you’re looking for...ahem...‘finspiration’...Barry can even provide you with a recipe card. Welovebearwood aren’t the best chefs in the world so we just love this idea!
Barry describes his own personal style of cooking as “Eclectic fusion” and his favourite chef is the New Zealander Peter Gordon, the father of fusion cooking, who brought the idea of cooking creatively with new flavours and textures from all around the world to the UK back in the 1980s. Barry’s style of cooking is equally creative and he loves trying new dishes. It all started when he began helping his Mum out in the kitchen when he was only 8 years old (bless!) and his love of cooking just grew and grew and grew.

Having always lived locally and been schooled in Bearwood he dreamed of owning his own restaurant here. Barry studied hard at catering college and then following a stint at the Apollo Hotel on Hagley Road someone gave him a couple of telephone numbers to help further his culinary career.  He called the first one and it turned out to be Gardener Merchant who do the catering for all those fancy pants high society events (Wimbledon. Silverstone, Henley Regatta – you name it Barry’s cooked the food there!) and for the queen too at her Garden Parties (wow!).  Barry’s worked as the Head Chef at Villa Park too. Originally he was just going to cover the summer season but in the end he worked for Gardener Merchant for over 3 years.
Most of Barry’s advertising is through word-of-mouth watering mouth – after 14 years Azzari Too has such a good reputation that regular customers end up coming back for more and more of his delicious food – even from as far away as Florida and Barbados. He’s served the odd celebrity too (being the soul of discretion...or perhaps that should be ‘sole’...he keeps most of the names to himself) including legendary footballer Cyril Regis...a dude who clearly knows one or two thing about landing things in nets.
Barry’s now looking towards the future and he’s noticed that our perception to food has really changed over the last few years. We all lead increasingly busy lives, calling for convenient ready meals, but our tastes are a lot more sophisticated than they were in the past.  Findus crispy pancakes are definitely no longer in vogue!  So right now Barry’s working on his own food range that’ll capture Azzari Too’s unique flavours ready to dished up at home, in schools, hospitals...wherever there’s a demand for great tasting food.  Did you know that on Virgin flights to the Caribbean they don’t serve any Caribbean food? Something tells us that Barry’s their man!

There’s a range of fresh fish available to buy at Azzari Too every Friday and Saturday morning between 9am and 12 noon.

For the full Azzari Too experience why not book a table first and get some ‘finspiration’ (hey...if a pun’s worth doing once it’s worth doing again) though!

P.S. Here are some Azzari Too Dates for your diary:

Sunday 29th July - Azzaritoo Brunch club (11 am –2.30 pm).  Bookings now be taken. 

Tuesday 31st July - Azzaritoo pudding club ( 7 pm –10 pm). 
Please click on here for Azzari Too's website or here for their facebook page for more details.

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