Revelry for football and food

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 22, 2016
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Giuseppe G., owner of an AC Milan-themed restaurant in Beijing, sits on the sofa with the football club's logo. [Photo by Guo Yiming /]

Looking through his favorite album of AC Milan's super players, Giuseppe G., head chef and boss of Alioolio Italian Restaurant, gladly pointed out his favorite footballer, the legendary Fillipo Inzaghi.

In his restaurant at Beijing's eastern Chaoyang District, football shirts of "Super Pippo" with his signature, a football with all the players' autographs, a photo album combining the player's model show, and a sofa with the club's Rossoneri logo clearly signify its owner's footballing loyalty.

Born in Milan, Giuseppe developed a passion for football at an early age and quickly sided with the Rossoneri against the Nerazzurri, its local rival Inter Milan.

On Mar. 20, 2011, after having lived in China for five years promoting fine dining, he opened the restaurant in an area favored by Beijing's expatriate community displaying the football decor. Starting the business is a perfect combination of his two life interests, football and food, he insists.

According to Giuseppe's estimation, up to 600 Milan fans all over China have dined in the Alioolio since its opening.

"I give customers who identify themselves as Milan fans a discount or a complementary dish."

He claimed that being a Milan-themed restaurant is the uniqueness and one of its advantages attributable to its success besides his dedication to "authentic" Italian food, the feeling of home-made cuisine, a rich variety of dishes and decent service.

Thanks to its popularity through gaining several awards and word-of-mouth recommendations, the restaurant has become a place of enjoyment for Italian food lovers in Beijing, notably Milan fans.

"We often organize parties for the fans," said Giuseppe. "Over 80 of Inzaghi's fans in China celebrated his birthday in August 2012 here and we even contacted him via a video call that day."

He was amazed that most of the 80 fans were girls!

When asked whether being a Milan-themed restaurant would limit its popularity among customers who take different sides in football, he insists diners wouldn't resist the temptation of his authentic Italian cuisine.

"One customer who hated Milan also came to the restaurant very often," he recalled with a broad smile. "But, he always refuses to sit on the sofa with the football's logo on it."

He confessed that Milan's performance in recent seasons was quite disappointing, but sees it quite normal for a team to have some ups and downs. "I'm happy to see it getting better now," he added.

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