Armando ‘Andy’ Adriano: Norwich restaurateur was perfect ‘Mine Host’

RACHEL AND ARMANDO ADRIANO (RIGHT) WITH CHEF BARIS GAVRIEL AND WAITER FRANCO TRAINI CELEBRATE THE TRATTORIA'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY. RACHEL AND ARMANDO ADRIANO (RIGHT) WITH CHEF BARIS GAVRIEL AND WAITER FRANCO TRAINI CELEBRATE THE TRATTORIA'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
9:13 AM

Former Norwich restaurateur Armando ‘Andy’ Adriano, who introduced thousands of customers to authentic Italian cuisine, has died, aged 74.

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With his wife Rachel, he ran Adriano’s Trattoria in London Street for more than 20 years from 1981, at a time when the city was enjoying a rapidly emerging new world of exotic holidays, foreign food, TV chefs and dining out experiences.

Often described as the perfect Mine Host, the immaculately dressed Andy loved meeting and greeting friends and customers with charm, a twinkle in his eye and the promise of great food and hospitality. His signature celebratory dessert Baked Alaska was delivered to the table with a song.

He had moved with Rachel to Norwich in 1971 to manage a new Berni Inn at the Norfolk Tavern in Exchange Street. They had married six years earlier in Henley.

Born in Turin, he came to this country as a young man for seasonal work and later in Reading, where he was working as a waiter in 1959, he met dental nurse Rachel.

Inevitably, she was drawn into catering. It was their goal to run their own restaurant and the dream came true in May 1978 after Andy had spent two years with Ritzy’s Cafe America in Westlegate. They had the chance to move into the historic London House in London Street, which remained as an English restaurant.

They launched Adriano’s Trattoria, thought to be only the second Italian restaurant in Norwich.

After seeing the Phantom of the Opera in London, they had been inspired by an Italian restaurant, which let customers select their own pasta and match it with a sauce.

It became popular and adventurous Norwich diners speedily relished the idea. For many it became their baptism into Italian cuisine. Food quality was always first, but Adriano’s also developed an ambience and atmosphere all of its own while Andy, who spoke conversational German, French and Spanish, as well as English, became a big character in the city.

On his regular visits to the nearby Norwich Market for fresh and local produce, Andy, always smartly dressed in his suit, would return with vegetables, a box of tomatoes – or a basket of strawberries, one of which, with an Italian flourish, he might offer to any lady he passed on his way.

Customers were heartbroken when the couple decided to sell up in 2003; some describing Adriano’s as a second home. But it was a business decision with only a few years of the lease still to run and the city’s catering scene starting to change and rapidly develop.

They later divorced but not before Rachel had helped Andy find a new job as bar steward at the City Club in Colegate, a role he continued until diagnosed with cancer in 2010. They remained friends and Rachel devoted most of the final years helping and caring for him.

He leaves two sons, Nick and Richard, and four grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St Faith’s Crematorium on Thursday, April 17 at 1.15pm.

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