Jamie O – Zena 2

Jamie’s Italian Restaurant in Norwich

Back when Trump wasn’t a pensioner & Kim Jung-Un was a toddler, I was on a risk assessment training course at Leith’s catering HQ, right next door to the TFI studios. It was our last day on the course, I was sitting the exam and Chris Evans guests were rocking out in band practice, it was very distracting, but very cool at the same time.

A few of us chatted up the security and in we popped for a little look around. There was a teen looking Jamie Oliver with girlfriend Jules in tow, both fresh faced & waiting for possibly his first interview. Of, course I thought he was one of the crew but the security fellor informed us he was a ‘Knackered chef or something like that’, “we’re all knackered, all chefs are” I said.

That night after whizzing home on the underground, I lounged on the sofa, flicked on the box and watched for the very first time Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef talking on TFI (Thank F its Friday).

Back then celebrity chefs consisted of a serious Delia, an alcoholic Floyd and a spiky haired Gary Rhodes – so Jamie was a breath of fresh air, young, vibrant, funky, cool – with his first cookery show, exhibiting him scootering around on a scooter, whizzing down the spiral stair case on his arse and oozing confidence while whipping through rustic Italian and British fayre, with cool music on in the back ground.

I hate to think of myself as a fan of any ones, we are all people & fame is a weird wonder, but I certainly have followed his career with admiration and similarities – I wouldn’t say we are like twins BUT –

He’s like my Cheffy brother – we’re both dyslexic, I may be from Suffolk but he’s from next door, Essex, we both play the drums, of course both avid foodies with a massive passion to teach, we were both cheffing in London at the same time – in the days of rustic Mediterranean flavours, we’re both family orientated with countryside houses built around the kitchen. Both with an interest in healthy eating – especially for the kids with a good sense of what’s right and wrong in the food industry.

Of, course I’m not a bloke, with 5 kids, a few million in the bank and a chain of restaurants but there’s still time! (Maybe not for the extra 3 children).


Which leads me to today – – a trip to Jamie’s Italian Norwich I’ve been before but not for a year or so. I don’t normally like chains they can often lack freshness and individualism. But Jamie’s team make sure the food is both seasonal, freshly prepared and locally sourced & ever evolving.

The menus changed since I was there last – my daughter was especially pleased to see the addition of Pizzas. I begged for a slice, it was amazing, the dough was so light, apparently sour dough proved overnight – double yum.

We had some free mozzarella to start with compliments of Jamie’s gold card (free to join https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/gold-club/ ) – the best mozzarella this side of Italy (seriously).

We then had some squid – my only complaint was it was a tad cold, but umptious with plump tentacles of crispiness.

I had a steak with mushrooms, a choice of sauce and a choice of sides for around £17 – you couldn’t fault the quality & the sweet potato fries were generously lovely. Hubby had the octopus, squid ink ravioli with a crab and tomato chilli sauce and loved it and because he’s a pig he ordered a Kale and hazelnut side salad which was truly delicious – I could have eaten a bucket of the stuff, but I do love Kale!

We then finished with a Chocolate Fudge Sundae (2 spoons) for around £6 – would have liked it in a big tall Sundae dish with an extra flourish but it was sweetly satisfying.

Of, course the other thing about chain restaurants is the consistently good service, the staff are trained to deal with anything and they definitely make you feel special. Like explaining the specials, informing you of menu changes, regularly checking you’re ok – no need for class room hand raise’s here. So, I did feel like I got the personal touch – even though we were in the biggest Jamie’s in the whole of the UK – because Norwich is worth it.


George Skipper was the architect on the Royal Arcade in 1899, previously a coaching Inn yard. It’s amazing and one of Norwich’s true gems of Victorian architecture, even though its style is 1920’s art deco. And Jamie’s Italian Norwich takes up a massive end chunk of the arcade, retaining its splendour in its internal décor.


I’ll definitely be back again – I want some more pizza, I want to try a burger and I want the recipe for that mozzarella. I know ‘I want doesn’t get’ but that pizza dough was to die for.


So, until next time – – my brother from another chaffy mother – needs to pay Norwich a visit, only next time invite me I’d like to talk Motz – but don’t ask me to spell it!

Follow me – @FoodNorwich /  Follow him – @jamieoliver  Follow this – @JamiesItalianUK

Book a table – Norwich 519967


Jamie’s Italian, Norwich21-24 Royal Arcade
Castle StreetNorwichNR2 1NQ

Opening times

Monday – Saturday 12 noon–10:00pm
Sunday 12 noon–9:00pm

Blogging by Zena Leech-Calton