FOODIES and dining enthusiasts will remember Cin Cin starting as a set of dining clubs and pop ups across the city in 2013 before it landed its first site in Vine Street, Brighton, three years later.

Serving primarily small plates and pasta dishes, the 20-cover restaurant took off quickly and secured itself a place at the table of Brighton’s fine dining scene with its modern take on classic Italian dishes.

Popularity grew quickly and it wasn’t long before its owner, David Toscano, realised he would need to open another site.
He said: “The plan was always to have more than one site. 

"Vine Street is great and will always be our baby, but it’s tiny.

“It turned out that a lot of weeks we were turning away more customers than we were able to let in.

“We were starting to bump into people in town, who would say ‘I’ve tried three times to come in to your restaurant and I can never get a seat so I’m not going to bother any more’, which really made us think OK maybe this is the time to open somewhere else.”

Cin Cin Western Road opened in Hove yesterday, a 35-cover restaurant with an open kitchen, bar stools around the counter and a sleek dining area out the back ideal for group bookings.

Regulars at Vine Street will rejoice at the menu, which shares some similarities with its predecessor (think home-made pasta, small plates and fat, juicy olives).

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But that’s mainly where the similarities end. Western Road features a preparation kitchen downstairs, allowing the Hove site to be much more adventurous.

“It means we can now cook a lot of the larger stuff and things that need a long time on the hob – like stock, ragu, braises. We can do all of that here.

“Hopefully it’ll allow us to lift the calibre of food at Vine Street as well as here.”

The menu at Western Road is certainly impressive, with the notable addition of Italian soft cheeses such as burrata, stracciatella and buffalo mozzarella accompanied by seasonal ingredients on the small plates.

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But that’s not all, as the restaurant has also been able to cultivate more mains into the menu,  including pumpkin spelt risotto, roasted gurnard and Sussex porchetta, owing to its charcoal Robata grill.

David said: “It allows us to create ‘proper’ main course dishes of meat, fish and vegetables.”

As for puddings, diners are in for yet another treat, with the dessert featuring an intensely chocolatey mousse accompanied by beetroot ice cream, and a modern take on an Italian classic: tiramisu.

Substituting marsala with great quality, coffee-flavoured stout, Cin Cin’s “beer-misu” is a softer take on the classic dish, served with salted caramel, making it much more accessible for those who find the flavour of traditional tiramisu a little too sharp.

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But then finding an alternative way to serve up Italy on a plate is what Cin Cin has always been about.

David said: “We just want to focus on what ingredients are in season and build an Italian meal around that.

“We can’t say we’re authentic with a capital ‘A’ – you won’t find dishes here are exactly the same way as you would find them in Italy but people have really responded to our cooking and we’ve been able to open two restaurants in under 18 months, which I never thought would happen.”

Being able to count even one successful restaurant after 18 months is an achievement, let alone two.

David seems surprised but said it hasn’t been simple: “We didn’t think it would happen this quickly at all.

“I’m very happy with how it’s come together. 

“It was quite stressful getting to this point because we’ve basically built the whole site out in two months.

“But in order to do that, we had to make quite a lot of design decisions very quickly, for example, we had to decide the brass around the front of the bar with just a 
small sample, and we didn’t know how all the colours would go together until they were all in.

“Our approach was always that if we opened another restaurant, we wanted it to look and feel like people were in a Cin Cin restaurant. 

“We didn’t want to try to reinvent our own brand.”
Cin Cin has moved flawlessly from a mobile van to a permanent fixture in Brighton’s North Laine and now Western Road.

David said: “I’ve found I really love hosting people, the whole hospitality side of it is really important to me, and paired with the food that I’ve grown up with it has just been really positive.

“I always just set out to open a restaurant that I would want to eat in.

“I thought there was a gap for a good 
Italian restaurant in Brighton – so I decided to fill it.”

  • Cin Cin is at 60 Western Road, Hove.