A village pub in Curbridge has been revitalised with a new owner, a major refurbishment — and a new menu offering a taste of the Mediterranean.
The Horse and Jockey, in Botley Road, reopened in the summer after an overhaul costing more than £180,000.
Franco Ardani, the previous owner of popular Italian restaurant Franco and Paolo, is now managing the Fuller’s leased pub.
The new owner has brought his Italian culinary expertise to the pub menu, which features a range of pub classics with a Mediterranean twist, as well as an Italian tapas selection.
Franco said: ‘It was a big challenge, but I’m enjoying it immensely.
‘Locals wanted the pub in use, but nothing was being done with the space. We’d like to think we’ve revitalised the pub - breathed new life into it. Locals have really embraced the change.’
The pub underwent a six-week refurbishment, with new furniture and updated decor, and reopened on July 4.
‘The pub needed more than a good lick of paint - it needed major internal cosmetic surgery,’ Franco said.
The new menu features food more associated with the Amalfi Coast than the South Downs, including calamari, gamberoni, and bruschetta.
He added: ‘We’ve taken on a new chef and are really proud of the menu. It wasn’t going to be right to do just Italian dishes in an English pub, but we wanted to offer something different.’
This new selection is already impressing regulars – with a host of positive TripAdvisor comments.
Franco knows the difference between his pancetta and his prosciutto, having run Franco and Paolo, an Italian restaurant in Locks Heath for more than five years before it shut earlier this year due to a rent increase of 40 per cent.
The Italian restaurant regularly hosted charity fundraising events, an activity Franco hopes to continue at the Horse and Jockey.
‘Being part of the community means a lot to me,’ Franco said.
On Thursday, September 20, the pub will host a three course meal and dance for bereavement support charity Simon Says. Tickets are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Horse and Jockey, employing 12 members of staff, is situated next to Curbridge Creek, which is the start of the National Trust Hamble River Walk.