Gianluca Tozzi worked all across Europe as a chef before settling in St Leonards-On-Sea, where he met Jack, who has a background in graphic art and design and who is responsible for the interior concept and front of house management. Together they dreamed about opening a local restaurant, which became a reality in 2020 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. They opened Galleria's doors in August 2020.

Jack and Gianluca Tozzi, Owners of Galleria in St Leonards

What inspired you to open Galleria?
Growing up in Southern Italy, Gianluca learned the art of cooking from his Grandmother, Carla.
Anyone who has ever been to Italy will know the importance of food and how much it plays a role in everyday life. Since he was a little boy, Gianluca had the idea of owning his own restaurant to show others what food meant to him.
Coming from a fishing town in Puglia, (after travelling across Europe), Hastings and St leonards felt like a home away from home because of the shared love and passion for local, seasonal fish. 
This is how Galleria was born.

How do you ensure/test the quality of your ingredients?
Seasonality, seasonality, seasonality. Seafood is an ingredient which requires experience.
Locality is equally important, which is why we have built strong relationships with reliable and trustworthy suppliers within East Sussex.

What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
It is very important to stay educated as you never stop learning: books, articles from chefs and visiting other establishments to enjoy what they have to offer.
There are trends in food, ingredients, aesthetics and presentation but it is equally important to be aware of which trends are relevant to your own concept. 

What do you think will be 2021’s biggest food trend?
We think the focus will be on simplicity: good,simple quality food that is well considered.

What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs and restaurateurs in these unusual times?
Do your research, have a very very clear idea of your concept. Your brand.
Believe in yourself, be confident, work extremely hard and maintain your passion.

What should we absolutely try off your menu?
Our menu changes very regularly depending on the catch off the boats.
In summer 2020, one of our most popular starters was “crab arancino with shellfish bisque and dill oil”, followed by “hake kiev in a creamy leek and potato sauce with clams”.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Apart from my knives, during lockdown, I have been experimenting with a cold smoker and have gained some interesting results, particularly with vegetable purees. 

What are you most excited about right now in the food scene?
Looking at the faces of customers enjoying socialising with their friends and family,

Galleria Seafood Bar St Leonards

Your favourite 5 minute meal…
In our house, our favourite 5 minute meal would definitely be rigatoni Carbonara, with guanciale.

Tell us one funny moment related to your career as a chef.
There have been a few, I have to say however, one of the winners was someone saying that their oysters were too salty!

What’s next for Galleria?
To be able to continue to show our customers what St Leonards and Hastings have to offer in terms of the wonderful, local seafood and produce from the East Sussex coast.

If I weren’t a chef, I’d be..
A detective. I love thrillers!

Find Galleria on 39 Norman Road, St Leonards On Sea, East Sussex
IG: @galleriastleonards