Combine harvest Three into one will go, as Elaine Watson discovers in a London deli-caffé which boasts an Italian restaurant, takeaway and shop You'll struggle to find a pot of powdered Sardinian saffron at the local supermarket, but just because it's on the shelf at Carluccio's doesn't make it upmarket, say owners Antonio and Priscilla Carluccio. The Italian TV chef and his wife have just opened their second deli-caffé which offers own label and branded products alongside an instore restaurant at Fenwick department store in London's Bond Street. "Carluccio's is aspirational, but that's not a dirty word," Antonio says. "Superb food in a stylish location doesn't have to be pretentious or unaffordable." Given the upmarket location, visitors are surprised to discover they can enjoy a top quality three course meal with recipes developed exclusively by the Italian chef for under £15. And there is nothing revolutionary about eating and shopping at the same site, Priscilla says. The concept of a deli-caffé is a familiar one to most continental European consumers. But this is more than a posh instore café with tempting gifts for shoppers who have time and money to spend. When pressed to pinpoint the Carluccio's customer, Priscilla insists there is no target shopper. "Some people drop in at lunchtime to pick up a hot pesto roll for £1, while others might have a three course meal and spend £200 on gifts for friends and relatives," she says. Diners may sample a dish in the restaurant and buy it over the counter ready to cook, or in the form of ingredients to prepare at home later. The menu is neither exotic nor obscure, says Antonio, who berates chefs for "always trying to be new, to be fashionable". Carluccio's is simply about "superb quality, basic Italian food". While the average grocer is unlikely to sell jars of crushed whole lemons and olives, or a wide selection of truffle products, the range at Carluccio's is designed to prevent customers who have little or no knowledge of Italian food feeling alienated, say the couple. Clear labelling helps to demystify products for shoppers. For those without an inkling of how to prepare risotto with cuttlefish ink or what to do with their luxury olive and lemon oil once they get home, each label explains how to prepare the product, what to serve it with and gives its name in English and Italian. The majority sell under the Carluccio's brand, although a small number of ambient lines (six or seven out of 150) retain the original supplier's name and branding to "add variety". Food retail is central to the Carluccio concept, drawing on the couple's experience of distributing regional Italian food from "artisanal, not industrial" suppliers on a wholesale basis to independent retailers throughout the UK. Between them, the shop, deli and takeaway counters generate about a third of total sales at Carluccio's Fenwick branch. A third branch will open in London's St Christopher's Place in February that will be between three and four times the size of the 3,000 sq ft Bond Street branch. However, the size of the food shop will not increase proportionately, because greater emphasis will be placed on eating in. Carluccio's combines eating with shopping in a happy, bustling environment, and that is an exciting alternative to the restaurant and the supermarket, says Priscilla, who is responsible for the logo, packaging, shop design and product range across the Carluccio's portfolio. "We wanted to replicate a genuine Italian café atmosphere, without descending into pastiche." Antonio, who firmly believes that "food is culture", opened his first shop specialising in Italian foods and funghi in Covent Garden in 1991. Strong sales at the first Carluccio's in Market Place convinced the couple that the concept had potential, and they plan to open four or five new outlets next year around London and then to branch out beyond the capital and possibly overseas, says Priscilla, who manages the business. "The customer base will vary enormously, even across the different outlets in London. There's no reason why this wouldn't work in Manchester or Tokyo." Carluccio branded products can also be bought by mail order or online at, which provides a list of stockists across the UK. {{SPOTLIGHT }}