A YORK food legend is hoping to open an Italian-style aperitivo bar at his new cafe in the city centre.

Paolo Silesu of Il Paradiso Del Cibo at 40 Walmgate opened a sister outlet, Paradiso Dolce Salato, a few doors down at 8 Walmgate with business partner Elisa Peterle last autumn.

The cafe which sells a range of coffees, cakes, ice cream and Italian sandwiches, pizza and hot dishes during the day, now wants to open in the evening and offer diners a choice of drinks as well as small plates of food - cicchetti as it is called in Italy.

Paolo told The Press: "We want to extend the opening hours so we can serve cicchetti which are similar to Spanish tapas. "They are small dishes to drink with a glass of wine, some Prosecco, a small beer or a spritz."

Gazette & Herald: Paolo with Elisa pictured last summer outside the former Bert & May shop which is now Paradiso Dolce SalatoPaolo with Elisa pictured last summer outside the former Bert & May shop which is now Paradiso Dolce Salato

He will be serving Italian drinks including Aperol and Campari and Limoncello spritzes as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

And on the menu? "We will have a selection of cured meats and cheeses, little savoury pastries called pizzettas, mushroom crostini, and a special salad with walnuts and Gorgonzola," said Paolo.

He said he was having CCTV fitted at the premises ahead of the licensing committee meeting next week which will determine the application and which he hopes is approved.

In the application for a premises licence for Paradiso Dolce Salato, Elisa is seeking permission to serve alcohol from 9am - 10pm daily, but also sell alcohol from 10am-10pm Monday to Sunday, which Paolo says will allow people to buy their imported Italian drinks to take home with them.

Paolo said he hoped to open as soon as the licence is approved by the council.

Gazette & Herald: Paradiso Dolce Salato todayParadiso Dolce Salato today

Eating small plates of food with a drink is very common in Italy, he said, and was becoming increasingly popular in York too.

"It is really popular. It's not like a restaurant where people are restricted to one main meal. Here people can choose three or four different dishes and share - it makes eating out more fun!"

The changes echo some of the history of the cafe's sister venue Il Paradiso Del Cibo.

When Il Paradiso Del Cibo (translated from Italian as food heaven) first opened in 2003 it was a deli and take-away - and only later became a restaurant, celebrated for its traditional and home-made dishes, full of Sardinian flavour and flair.

Paolo also runs a second restaurant, Il Paradiso on the Forest, at Sutton on the Forest just outside York with 100 covers. He sold his Il Paradiso restaurant in Leeds in February 2020.