La Porto Italiano has been crowned at top eaterie in an annual Hartlepool Mail competition and staff are ‘overwhelmed’ to be awarded the title for a second time.
The Billingham eatery has been named the Mail’s Italian Restaurant of the Year for the second year in a row.
Delighted staff were presented with the award which was won on public votes.
Manager Vickie Higgins said: “We are really quite overwhelmed about the receiving the award.
“We’re just a small restaurant, it only hold up to around 45 people, it’s very personal which I think is part of the appeal.
“Our service is personal and friendly and the food is all cooked on the day and is fresh. I think they’re the reasons we’ve won the award for a second time.”
The restaurant serves up classic Italian favourites of pizza and pastas as well as burgers, steaks and fish dishes which prove popular with customers.
“We have a loyal customer base. We’re open from 10 in the morning for breakfast and go right through the day serving pasta and pizza,” added Vickie.
“We have quite a lot of people out shopping who just pop in for a coffee during the day.
“The award is all down to the hard work of the staff.
“I’d like to thank everyone for voting for us and helping us get the award again this year.
“It just wouldn’t be possible without our customers.”
La Porto Italiano, Billingham, is owned by brothers Adil and Biret Iletmis, and Gheorghe Rosca.
They have also recently expanded the business and opened a second restaurant in Norton - welcoming their first customers on January 10.
A small team of around ten members of staff work at the restaurant, in Queensway, Billingham.
This is the second time running the restaurant,which first opened five years ago, has picked up the award.