Recommended Eats: Florio's D'Italia, the pizzeria and deli that is helping to feed Pompey's promotion push

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A Portsmouth pizzeria and deli is providing an authentic Italian dining experience which is delighting locals and the cities footballers alike.

Florio's D'Italia in High Street, Old Portsmouth has quickly built up a reputation of providing a slice of Italy right on out doorstep. Walking through the front door it feels like you have found the secret to transportation, as the traditional pizzeria and deli fills the senses with quintessential Italy. From the delicious cannoli's on the counter, to the pizza oven and the Italian products on the shelves, it imbues a relaxed atmosphere that makes you want to pull up a chair, order a coffee and wind down for a few hours.

The restaurant run by Alex Florio and his son and daughter, Max and Izzy, only opened in August 2023 but word of mouth has quickly spread. The building which housed the old Duke of Buckingham pub is now filled with customers looking for authentic Italian food. Izzy said: "I think it is definitely what Old Portsmouth needed, there are not that many restaurants or foodie places down here. We have a certain feel in here, its very traditional. In Italy you have trattoria and that is what we wanted to go for, casual dining but it's also got a really cosy feel to it.

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"A lot of people that come in here do say they feel like they have just walked into Italy. Its not a generic theme that we have, we wanted to make it feel like you were in your nonna's house, with the tiles, the wood, the lemon trees. In my nonna's kitchen it's lemons everywhere so we wanted to do that here too to make it feel like home."

The authentic feel also comes from the family who have put their heart and soul into it. Izzy said: "We love working as a family and I think that's what people love as well, that we are genuine about our passion for our food, we absolutely love it, its our dream. My Dad has always had this dream to bring Pompey real pizza. Everyone that tries it always says this is the best pizza, its because we only use top ingredients and I think you can really notice that."

Brother and sister, Max and Izzy Florio, have been running Florio's D'Italia in Old Portsmouth alongside their father Alex, since August 2023 and the restaurant is gaining a reputation as an authentic slice of Italy.Brother and sister, Max and Izzy Florio, have been running Florio's D'Italia in Old Portsmouth alongside their father Alex, since August 2023 and the restaurant is gaining a reputation as an authentic slice of Italy.
Brother and sister, Max and Izzy Florio, have been running Florio's D'Italia in Old Portsmouth alongside their father Alex, since August 2023 and the restaurant is gaining a reputation as an authentic slice of Italy. | Joe Williams

While there are no shortage of Italian restaurant in Portsmouth, the Florio's believe they offer something unique that others do not provide, a stripped back traditional menu that is closer to their roots. Izzy said: "Its not hard, its just good quality ingredients, people notice it and love it and we are affordable. Our food is very simple but you can really taste that it doesn't need to be complicated, you don't need 100s of dishes.

"When you go to a lot of Italian restaurant they have 50 pasta dishes and loads of pizza dishes, its too much, you don't need to be that complicated. Focus on one thing and make it amazing rather than have lots of dishes but they are all average."

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Izzy added "There are also not many places in Southsea where you can come and have coffee all day. We do great coffee until we shut in the evening. So you can sit in and have homemade cannoli and a coffee or a pizza, stop off with your dog while your walking. You can pop in for your groceries and grab a coffee" It is not just the locals who have taken notice of Florio's D'Italia. A peruse through their Facebook page will show a number of recognisable faces have attended there over the last few weeks. Stars of Portsmouth's promotion chasing football team have been been turning up to get a taste of Italy including, Colby Bishop, Kusini Yengi, Zac Swanson and Joe Rafferty.

Max said: "It's amazing, we are all Portsmouth fans. I grew up, going to Fratton Park week in week out. My grandad has been a Pompey fan for 70 years, I watched us win the FA cup at Wembley with him. To see the players in here now is like a dream come true, especially this season with the team that we have got. If they keep doing what they are doing these players are going to be immortalised here, hopefully they will with all the energy that Florio's pizzas is giving them. Hopefully they keep performing and supporting us as well. We want them all to come in"

One of the popular dishes amongst the players is their gnocchi. Max said: "We do a slow cooked, grass fed, beef short rib ragu with gnocchi which they have had a couple of times. We have got so much variety but we like to keep things simple across the board so there is something for everyone whether you like meat or veg. But it seems most of the Pompey boys like a meaty dish. Our most popular pizzas are the meat ones."

Whether you are a Portsmouth footballer, a local or a tourist, Florio's D'Italia is appreciative of the support it has received since opening. With plans for outside seating in the summer and the potential for a second store, the future is looking bright for this little slice of Italy in Portsmouth. Izzy said: "We are really grateful for everyone that comes in and shows support, we have got great customers here."

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