Situated opposite London’s Smithfield Market, designer Matteo Bianchi Studio has created an eatery reminiscent of southern Italy – giving an accurate portrayal of the Italian region both in atmosphere and food. The concept favoured by the client was a throwback to 1940s’ simplicity, authenticity and warmth.
The restaurant has plenty of authentic charm. Matteo Bianchi Studio designed the lighting, the tables and banquettes and many of the items were sourced from vintage markets and the region of Apulia itself to give a distinctive, genuine touch.
Beneath the street level is a basement restaurant, which feels like stepping into the heart of Italy. Warm and calm, it boasts cobbled stones, cast iron radiators, leather seating, stucco walls and ceramic lighting.
Distinctive details such as a vintage delivery bike, old photographs, a vintage console cabinet and aged wooden shutters give character and a story to the previously sterile, stark room. A ceiling of traditional lath allows warm light to peak from behind.
The bathrooms are simple and honest; each stall has a traditional WC and the basins are vintage finds. The scheme is light with limestone slabs on the floor and white mosaic tiles on the wall. The lighting scheme here, and throughout the restaurant, is soft with occasional pendants and wall lights.
The kitchen in the basement restaurant is open to the eye, with the chefs cooking fresh dishes and pizzas in a large oven. The head chef and owner is passionate about sourcing fresh, good quality produce from Italy.
The fresh seasonal ingredients and kitchenware are displayed in the stairwell window ledge, beneath a bespoke, vintage bottle light feature. The window fascia is also reminiscent of a bygone era; the window panes divided and the exterior painted a dark brown. Lettering is painted by hand the traditional way, with the family name ‘Sassa & Sons’ humbly displayed and ‘Apulia’ lit with bronze down lighters.
As it is a family business, Matteo Bianchi Studio wanted to ensure that from the moment customers step into the restaurant they are greeted with the familiar ring of a bell; the smells, warmth and welcome of stepping back into 1940s’ Apulia, to experience the home cooked cuisine – like mama used to make. Despite the vintage touches, Apulia is fresh and feels original amongst many contemporary restaurants in the area.