My Hampstead: Restaurateur’s love affair with Hampstead began on Valentine’s Day 1984

Rinaldo Mollura. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Rinaldo Mollura. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Italian restaurateur Rinaldo Mollura opened his first Hampstead eatery 31 years ago after previously working in South Hampstead. Last year, the owner of popular restaurant Villa Bianca opened up fish and chip restaurant Fish Café on his 59th birthday.

What brought you to Hampstead?

After working in Fairfax Road for several years and admiring the Hampstead area and especially the Villa Bianca restaurant from afar, in 1984 an opportunity to buy a restaurant in Hampstead came up and I was lucky enough to be able to take it. So on February 14 1984, I took over La Cage Immaginaire in Flask Walk, and this was the start of my Hampstead love affair.

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to?

I’d have an early walk up to Hampstead Heath, then visit Fred at the gym on Heath Street and have a good workout. Walk down to the Fish Café for lunch and take an afternoon siesta in my Hampstead flat (missing the school rush). Then freshen up and get suited and booted for a fantastic dinner at Villa Bianca.

What makes Hampstead a special place to live?

There is not one specific aspect of Hampstead, but a variety of interesting and quirky things which I believe make Hampstead such an interesting place to live.

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Is there anything about Hampstead which you would like to see changed or improved?

I believe that the traffic flow and parking could be improved, especially during rush hours.

A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you?

Robert De Niro or Jean Reno

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

I would have to say my mum Luciana Mollura. She is 84 and is in great condition and more importantly is still able to keep the whole family, including the newest generation (my grandchildren) together, dedicating herself totally to it.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

I wouldn’t....Let the others make the effort, I can finally relax.

Rinaldo Mollura was in conversation with Tim Lamden