our story

Jamie's Italian was founded in Oxford just four years ago. Since then it has grown to more than 30 restaurants worldwide, and there are already plans for even more in new towns, counties and continents around the world. But that's not even half the story...

 
  • In the beginning

    It started with the meeting of two unique minds, when a young Essex chef and an eccentric Italian met in the kitchen of London’s Neal Street restaurant back in the early 90s. Jamie Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo bonded while cooking the beautiful Italian food that had inspired them both since childhood, and the seed of an idea was planted.

    Years later, having toured Italy and declared that he “should have been Italian”, the now-famous Jamie decided he wanted to share everything he knew about Italian cuisine with the rest of the world – the fresh, locally sourced ingredients; the bold and simple flavours; and the relaxed way of sharing dishes.

    With his old friend and trusted mentor from Neal Street, Gennaro, Jamie planned to open a UK restaurant that reflected the passionate, humble and sociable attitude of Italians towards food. Jamie’s Italian was born.

  • 2008

    June

    Opening night

    The first Jamie’s Italian opens on George Street in Oxford. To the team’s delight, the queues go out the door and rave reviews come in. Their pasta, freshly made around the clock to Gennaro’s tried and tested recipe, takes the high street by storm. Joe Mair and Marcos Georgiou, our first general manager and head chef, don’t see much daylight but the customers just keep coming.

  • October

    Spilling into Bath

    On the back of Oxford’s success, a second restaurant opens in a glorious Georgian conversion in the centre of beautiful Bath. The queues follow and, with a brilliant team taking over, so does the fresh and delicious food.

  • November

    Kingston crowned

    Kingston in Surrey becomes home to the third restaurant, just a stone’s throw from the Thames, by the historic market place and opposite the Rose Theatre. It’s rustic, bustling and sociable – everything a Jamie’s Italian is meant to be.

  • 2009

    March

    Trip to the beach

    Jamie’s Italian heads for the coast and the famous Laines of Brighton. The restaurant reflects the nautical location beautifully, and is a real magnet for locals and tourists.

  • August

    Business growth

    The financial district of Canary Wharf couldn't be more different to Brighton, and the next restaurant is modern but has a heart. Even at the weekends there's a local community here, and our sweeping dining room creates an ideal backdrop for business banter or family chatter.

  • October

    On the money

    The Guildford branch is a traditional neighbourhood restaurant and the circular bank building is a little jewel in the Jamie's Italian crown – compact, inviting, beautifully designed and perfect for our relaxed and welcoming hospitality.

  • November

    Year of the dragon

    2009 ends with the flourish of a Welsh dragon's tail. Jamie’s Italian Cardiff boasts the most incredible chandelier, its own graffiti – a red dragon sweeping up the side of the staircase – and a restaurant space that bristles with energy.

  • 2010

    February

    From Oxford to Cambridge

    We finally take possession of a site in Cambridge we'd coveted for months: a gorgeous, grade-II listed building with a magnificent dome that rises above the main dining room. It’s our grandest restaurant yet, but it still feels like home.

  • March

    Getting around

    Reading presents us with a modern glass building - but it's iconic. Right on the bank of the canal in the town centre, it’s round and proud as we open with everyone's eyes upon us.

  • May

    Banking on the north

    Finally we head up north, and Jamie's Italian Leeds goes back to our classic design. A former bank with a crazily ornate ceiling is brought right up to date and made beautiful.

  • June

    Covent Garden blossoms

    West End here we come! Covent Garden positively swings into action from the moment the doors open. It's big, stylish and slick but, with our values at its heart, it's Jamie's Italian through and through.

    We open our second northern restaurant this month too. The team at Liverpool is full of characters with enough love and passion to keep Gennaro eternally happy. The beautiful building in the Liverpool 1 complex reflects the warmth of our staff and it's a winning combination.

  • July

    Crossing the border

    Further and further north we go, until we arrive in Glasgow. We take a landmark site on George Square and put together an enormous team of nearly 100 talented people.

    Meanwhile, back in London, the huge Westfield Shepherd's Bush shopping centre opens and Jamie’s Italian is there to provide the hungry shoppers with fresh food and a place to relax. The restaurant is long and stylish with a sunny, contemporary feel, but the wall of Vespa scooter lights nods to the restaurant’s heritage and inspiration, and the retro ice cream van is properly old school.

  • December

    Awards night

    Jamie’s Italian gets the perfect Christmas present, as it wins UK’s Best Restaurant Chain at the R200 Awards, run by Restaurant Magazine.

    Just in time for Christmas, we head back to Blighty and up to Birmingham to open a big, bold restaurant that reflects the city's industrial past. There's beauty in its vastness and our team lives and breathes our ethos with real passion.

  • 2011

    Jan

    Going global

    The first Jamie’s Italian outside the UK opens at the Festival City in Dubai, serving fresh and local ingredients in one of our biggest restaurants so far.

  • February

    New year in Nottingham

    We kick 2011 off in Nottingham. This is treasure of a site – a former merchant's townhouse covering three floors. It's quirky and utterly stunning.

    Bristol opens next, in a former bookstore that's equally impressive. It has all the beauty and elegance of its former glory, but it’s also vibrant and sociable. There’ll be no quiet reading here!

  • March

    "Oscar" night

    Jamie's Italian wins big at the "hospitality equivalent of the Oscars", the Retailers' Retailer of the Year Awards 2011, picking up Best Concept, Best Investment and the Retailer's Retail Award.

  • April

    Sailing into Portsmouth

    We're off to the coast and Portsmouth's restaurant, which is full of blue tiles, swirls and curved edges. It’s the perfect fit for a port city and makes a huge impression when you walk in. It’s really cool, but not as cool as the restaurant’s own ice cream van.

  • July

    The jury is in

    We open in Cheltenham's old courthouse – complete with judge and jury benches – which provides a perfect setting for the drama that is Jamie's Italian.

  • August

    Moving into Milton Keynes

    We bring a bit of Italian tradition to the modern metropolis of Milton Keynes, serving the freshest ingredients to hungry shoppers and locals in a bright and beautiful restaurant.

  • September

    Angel gets its wings

    The open and contemporary design at our Islington restaurant is perfect for the bohemian crowd and Upper Street devotees. The glass façade and stunning yellow neon signage at our Angel branch give us a unique presence in this bustling part of London.

    Still in London, we head east to Westfield Stratford City. It’s a gleaming new shopping centre on the edge of the Olympic Park but, more importantly, home to a stylish Jamie's Italian ready to wow the Olympic crowds.

  • October

    Jamie in the City

    We delve into the heart of the City of London to take over a former bank in Threadneedle Street. We reflect the grandeur of the financial district's heyday in the plush and woody interior to create Jamie’s Italian at its most decadent.

  • Going Down Under

    The second international Jamie’s Italian opens in Australia, bang in the middle of Sydney’s buzzing business district.

    Meanwhile, back in the UK, our Bluewater restaurant opens its doors. The restaurant's full of all our trademark touches, including a band of great staff who bring the Jamie's Italian experience well and truly to life for Bluewater's shoppers.

  • 2012

    January

    Success on the seafront

    Our Portsmouth restaurant, which has only been open for six months, wins Best Restaurant in the city’s News Guide Awards.

  • February

    A tale of two cities

    Small it may be, but St Albans opens with a bigger bang than we ever expected. This former pub encapsulates the essence of Jamie's Italian with its comfortable feel and delicious fresh food.

    Manchester is on the other end of the scale, as we convert the former Midland Bank – or "King of King Street" as it was known – into a grand and beautiful restaurant that’s worth a visit just to see the huge windows and pillars. You can even dine privately in the bank’s secure vault.

  • July

    LIFT OFF AT GATWICK...

    ...As we open a unique site in Gatwick Airport's North Terminal. Combining the best bits from Jamie's Italian and Union Jacks and introducing our own funky bakery and beautiful brekkie menu, it's groundbreaking stuff.

    We stop off at York, where the rustic features of a 17th-century wine merchant's home fit the Jamie's Italian blueprint perfectly, and this charming historic city gets a blast of delicious traditional Italian cuisine.

    We finally arrive in Edinburgh and a spectacular restaurant housed in the former supper halls of the Assembly Rooms on George Street. This is the height of 18th century grandeur, reinvented as a stunning Jamie's Italian.

    Our journey for 2012 ends in the beautiful city of Norwich. The Royal Arcade's gorgeous art nouveau style brings a touch of pure class to this elegant Jamie's Italian.

  • September

    GOOD LUCK FROM THE IRISH

    We open our first Irish restaurant in the Dublin suburb of Dundrum. We're excited to be there, and even more excited when we see that there's even been a road sign erected to point people towards the restaurant.

  • July

    OUR FIFTH BIRTHDAY…

    We go right back to where the journey started and celebrate our five-year anniversary in Oxford. Jamie thanks our loyal, long-serving staff and we give customers a real treat, designing a special menu full of Jamie’s favourite dishes and selling them all for £5!

    NEW KID ON THE BLOCK…

    a star is born as our first Jamie’s Italian Trattoria, a smaller, stripped back neighbourhood restaurant – opens in Richmond. The new menu focuses on the simple and authentic – fresh pasta & pizza, beautifully grilled meat and simple bites to start with and share. It’s the perfect place to wile away an evening.


    EASTERN SPIRIT…

    We’re heading east to Singapore. In typical Jamie’s Italian style, the restaurant oozes rustic charm with bespoke furniture that’s been handmade by local craftsmen. With a terrace that looks out over the harbour, it’s set to be a year-round hit.