Mev outside La Galleria and Brothertons

The decorators are frantically painting La Galleria in Woodstock at the moment to transform the premises ready to reopen later this month under new auspices.

The old school Italian restaurant La Galleria, once famous on the Oxfordshire dining scene, has been taken over by Mevlan Karaj, who owns the more traditional Italian restaurant Brothertons next door.

Mev outside Brothertons

It means he can now extend Brothertons to cater for all the diners he has to turn away, Brothertons being enormously popular with locals and tourists alike, and usually full to capacity.

“now we will have more room for everyone, and a much bigger kitchen, more chefs. I am so excited”

“It breaks my heart having to turn people away, but Brothertons is always mega busy,” Mev shrugs, “but now we will have more room for everyone, and a much bigger kitchen, more chefs… I am so excited.”

It’s been over a year in the planning as Mev momentarily thought about opening La Galleria as a new restaurant entirely, but soon discounted the idea for the Brothertons extension.

Brothertons pizza in Woodstock

“There was no point competing with my own restaurant,” he says, “so instead we are concentrating on making Brothertons even better and hope to open it later this month.”

Decor-wise the new premises will blend into the authentic Italian look of Brothertons next-door, so presumably in a few months no one will remember it being any different?

“Oh that will take a long time because lots of people grew up here with La Galleria and the much respected proprietor Lucio. It was open for 30 years and was a very special place. But it was time for a change.”

Mevlan Karaj outside LA Galleria in Woodstock

Taking over La Galleria means Brothertons will now have twice the seating capacity and a lovely courtyard dining area on the street outside.

It also means Mev, who also runs the town’s butchers and greengrocers, can move his chefs into the bigger kitchen in La Galleria, adapt the menu and introduce some new dishes.

So what’s the secret to Brothertons’ ongoing popularity? “We serve honest Italian food which everyone loves. It’s not fine dining but it’s what people love,” Mev says.

Mev outside La Galleria

Future plans include a separate bar between the two premises, if planning allows, but in the meantime it’s back to business and with a full restaurant to cater for tonight, Mev heads back to Brothertons, ready for its next incarnation.

Brothertons in Woodstock is on