“Naples is all about food, drink and hospitality and that’s what we want to bring to Oxford’s Covered Market,” Barbara Clemente tells me, as her family prepares to open new Italian eatery Il Corno, next week.
Il Corno is the brainchild of her daughter Fanny who came to Oxford University as a literature student and fell in love with the city. And yet Fanny also yearned for a good Panuozzo Bar – an Italian street food stall selling a king of Italian pizza sandwich.
So while completing her PHD, Fanny undertook numerous business courses, pitched her idea, and was finally given the go-ahead to open Il Corno in the unit between Tap Social READ ABOUT IT HERE and Gulp Fiction READ ABOUT GULP HERE In the historic indoor market.
Serving panuozzo – a pizza sandwich served in Naples – and taralli, a salty snack like a savoury curled biscuit, as well as holding a licence for aperitifs such as limoncello and wine, the family business is ready to open its doors and the Clementes can’t wait.
‘when we walked into the Covered Market we knew it was the ideal place for Il Corno. We fell in love with it there and then’
“Its the right place at the right time,” Barbara tells me, having recently moved to Oxford with her Italian husband Franco to help Fanny launch Il Corno (named after the Neapolitan red horns that symbolise good luck in Naples).
“We had been looking at premises in Oxford and London but when we walked into the Covered Market we knew it was the ideal place for Il Corno. We just loved the atmosphere and fell in love with it there and then.
“But there is also a real sense of community amongst the traders who have welcomed us with open arms. There is no rivalry here. Everyone just wants to help.”
Giving the unit a massive facelift, and some proper Neapolitan charm, customers can come for takeaways or sit on the tables, both inside and out.
‘there is also a real sense of community amongst the traders who have welcomed us with open arms’
“There is seating for about 20 because it’s quite a big unit,” Barbara tells me, “as well as the communal dining area that have really taken off recently.”
And with the new late opening hours (Thurs-Saturday READ ABOUT IT HERE) it means The Covered Market has become a real hub for foodies. So yes, we got in just in time.”
Hailing from Naples, Barbara and Franco have just retired, which coincided with Fanny finishing her PHD. “It all fell into place at the same time,” Fanny concedes, “so it’s been incredible timing.
But while Fanny is the CEO and director of Il Corno, Barbara and Franco are fully on board with the project, so it really is a family affair.
‘We want Il Corno to be a real Neapolitan hub in Oxford with language classes, dance, readings, films and other cultural events planned’
“We want Il Corno to be a real Neapolitan hub in Oxford with language classes, dance, readings, films and other cultural events to add to the atmosphere there,” Barbara adds.
Due to open on Sunday November 19, Barbara promises: “I think Oxford will love it and lap it up because as a city, it embraces anything international and is very open to new experiences. So I think Oxfordians will love the whole Il Corno experience. Just come down and try it.”
Il Corno will be open to the public from 11am to 5.30 from on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11am to 11 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 11 am to 4pm on Sundays. It will be closed on Tuesdays. For more details go to: https://www.ilcorno.co.uk