Carlo’s Restaurant – technically Italian cuisine – is undoubtedly the best seafood and steak restaurant in Llandudno, and probably all of North Wales. Carlo only buys the best produce – wild seabass (not farmed), Conwy mussels, Anglesey king scallops – not the little tiddly ones you will pay through the nose for in London! Their Gamberoni (king prawns) are simply stunning! He applies the same strict quality controls to his meats too and buys extra mature Welsh Black fillet direct from the abatoir when so may restaurants are downgrading to cheaper cuts like ribeye. This is why the restaurant is so busy and booking is essential on a weekend and recommended even on a Tuesday in February! Oh, I nearly forgot, their homemade garlic bread is just incredible – what a difference to the cheap ready made ones his competitors use! It’s these little touches that make all the difference.

Having holidayed in Capetown for the last three Januarys he was very impressed, and inspired by the restaurants out there. Firstly their fair pricing policies – wine in a restaurant is not much more expensive than in a bottle shop. In the UK we’re accustomed to the restaurant multiplying the cost of the wine by 4 then adding the VAT! Carlo doesn’t use multipliers, he just charges a fair price, and this makes his more expensive wines in particular great value. This way he sells two bottles where a more expensive restaurant may only sell one – he makes more money and the customer gets better value, if slightly more tipsy! So simple but why don’t other restaurants do it?

Secondly he was so impressed by the quality of the top end South African wines that he has added to his superb Italian range (including half a dozen Amarones)  by introducing some top end, boutique New World wines from South Africa, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and even a couple from Australia.

He now stocks some of the very best wines from these countries including Zevenwacht, Jean Daneel, Cape Point and Jordan from South Africa – all heavily awarded by John Platter. Tapiz, Benegas Lynch, Susana Balbo and Eral Bravo from Argentina – Gold Medal winning wines as featured at the Gaucho Grill. Morton Estates from New Zealand including Decanter’s “Best Chardonnay in the World” two years running – their stunning Coniglio 2002, exceptionally rare!

There are many restaurants struggling in the current economic slowdown. Perhaps they should take note of somebody thinking outside the box and introducing something different like the new world wines at Carlo’s, priced sensibly to give great value for money. If it works in sunny Llandudno on the Welsh Riviera, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work across the rest of the country! We’re all watching our spending, but that doesn’t mean we’re not spending, we’re just selective where we spend it! Give us great food, great wine, throw in a good family atmosphere, friendly efficient service and top it off with great value prices and you’ve got the recipe for success – particularly in this economic climate as there are fewer customers to go round, and they will go to the better restaurants first!