E Pellicci’s is a classic East London café that has been serving the local community for over a century.
It’s a genuine family business, the Pellicci’s have been working in the café for generations. The ‘E’ in the café’s title emblazoned on the outside comes from Elide Pellicci, the wife of Priamo Pellicci who first worked at the café in 1900. Elide raised seven children in the flat above the café, while simultaneously keeping the business going after her husband passed away in 1931.
Nevio Senior was born upstairs, and carried on the family tradition until he died in 2008. Now, his son Nevio Junior, daughter Anna and cousin Tony continue the work started by Priamo and Elide at the start of the last century.
The café is a part of Bethnal Green’s history and the building, with its vitrolite glass panelling and ornate wood panelled decor, is now Grade II listed.
We chatted to Nevio Junior, or Nev as he is known, about his experiences at Pellicci’s and the changes he’s witnessed in Bethnal Green over the years. Read our conversation below:
What makes working at Pellicci’s special for you?
‘I love meeting all the different people. For example, I’m a big Tottenham football club fan. A girl today came in with her family and she was wearing a Tottenham hat. So I told her she can sit wherever she likes.
‘We got chatting and she told me how her dad used to play for Tottenham. I asked what his name was and she said he was Graham Roberts. He was one of my heroes when I was growing up!
‘Things like that are really special for me. I’ll chat to everyone who comes in here. Me and Anna, my sister, are the same. You can ask our customers anything and they’re up for a chat!
The café is obviously an integral part the Bethnal Green community, what is it like around here?
‘My favourite thing is the close knit local community. It was a bit sad during lockdown. I love that people sit next to everyone and anyone in here.
‘You could come from a posh area and sit next to a local lad from around here. Many times you’ll see them strike up little chats and conversations with each other, and sometimes even friendships form out of these unexpected moments. That’s so nice. In Pellici’s everyone is the same – equal. They come in for a nice meal and a laugh. It’s a community hub and that’s what I love about it more than anything.
‘Coming to Pellicci’s is like coming into our home. It’s like our front room. When customers come in, we look after them. That’s what I enjoy the most, and Anna is the same.’
Have you seen many changes in the Bethnal Green area in the time you’ve been working at Pelliccis?
‘Yeah loads! Bethnal Green, it has changed massively. On a Sunday, when I was 14 or 15, it would be like a Ghost Town. That’s 30 years ago now but back then you’d only see a couple of cars on the Street. Brick Lane market and Columnbia Road Flower markets were completely different back then. Nowadays, places like that open all day every day and you can’t move for the amount of people there. There are lots of hipsters and people working in the City now. But it’s great. It’s evolving, just like people do.
‘What hasn’t changed is that we make good homemade food. There’s no rubbish here. All our chips are cut by hand. People like it like that. They know that you’re serving quality food. The new people who have moved here, they all know we’re here – thanks to social media. Anna does all of our Instagram, and it’s great to connect with people that way.
‘Sometimes, I have people come in and say that they have lived here for years, walked past and never been in. It’s always nice to welcome those new customers. We get people travelling from all over. It’s an absolute honour to serve them all.
You’ve had lots of famous visitors at Pellici’s over the years – tell us a little about that.
‘We had Harry Styles filming his new music video [Late Night Talking, 2022] here last year. I loved Harry Styles!
‘But we get all sorts of people. Like that girl I mentioned earlier – I want her to bring Graham Roberts in here, I’d be over the moon!
‘You just don’t who you’re going to meet in here. But I love meeting your normal people, the regulars, the people who have been coming in here since they were a baby. I’ve seen people grow up – and they’ve seen me grow up too.
‘You never know what’s going to happen in the cafe. It’s surprises every week. I met a lot of my friends through Pellici’s and I even met my wife here, she worked just down the road.
‘My life has been shaped by the cafe. I’m here most days. For over 20 years I’ve been here six days a week. Since my second little girl has come along though, I want to spend a bit more time with her. My Mum and Dad worked so hard in this cafe but it meant we didn’t get to see them a lot. I want to spend time with my family. It’s a blessing to have the cafe and I love it. But it’s so important to have family time as well. And you never know – maybe my kids will work here too.
My five-year old daughter says she’s going to kick me out and turn it into a cake shop. But if they want to do something else, and not work here, then of course I’d encourage them to do that.’
If someone was coming for the first time, what would you suggest they order?
‘Oooooh, I think my Mum’s cannelloni, With a portion of Mum’s hand cut chips on the side. Also, Anna makes these Ham and Cheese croquettes that you get a little bit of sauce on the side to dip in, and they’re really good as well. We try and do everything. Everything is home made and fresh. Whatever you order, I know you’re going to enjoy it.’
If Nev’s natural enthusiasm for Bethnal Green and the food they serve at his family’s East London café has inspired you to visit and give that home cooked food and family atmosphere as try, you will find them at:
332 Bethnal Green Road,
You can call them on 0207 739 4873, or visit their their website at epellicci.co.uk.
The Instagram account that Nev mentioned, the one run by Anna Pellicci, is here: E Pellicci’s Instagram.