Belsize Lane XO site: New Italian restaurant planned after Co-op snub

The closed XO restaurant in Belsize Lane

The closed XO restaurant in Belsize Lane - Credit: Archant

A new Italian restaurant is set to open on the site vacated by XO last year – eight months after campaigners saw off attempts from the Co-Op to open a shop there.

Andrea Casasola, a veteran of the restaurant business having worked overseeing TV chef Gino D'Campo's restaurants, hopes to open Calici in Belsize Lane by the end of July.

With its menu set to be based around fresh pasta and affordable wine, co-founder Andrea said he was hoping Calici would attract a varied customer-base.

He told this newspaper: "We're really excited to get going in Belsize Village.

"Our aim is to bring simple and delicious Italian food and to try to make it easier to try fantastic wines that aren't too expensive. We're going to have really reasonable prices."

Andrea explained that pending a successful licencing application - replicating the conditions which were attached to XO before it shut - and an extensive internal refurbishment, they would be opening this summer.

He added: "The idea is for it to be somewhere anyone can come, families, older people, people who just don't want to cook that night!"

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Local campaigner Linda Grove, who helped co-ordinate opposition to the opening of a Co-Op, welcomed the news that a new restaurant had taken over the lease.

She told this newspaper: "I hope that the opening of a new Italian restaurant in Belsize Village will be a kick-start, and help to bring life and energy back into Belsize Village - which has become a sad place since the closing of XO.

"I welcome them and I'm sure the community will support them."

The bid to open a Co-Op in Belsize Village was dropped in October after a summer of spirited opposition from local people and businesses, who were concerned that the supermarket would lead to increased traffic in the neighbourhood and pile the pressure on other local shops including the neighbouring Late Late Store.

After XO closed its doors in summer 2017, a year of rumours culminated in the Co-op application, but protests outside of the premises saw the plans fall through before Camden Council could consider a licencing application.