Pasquale Cinotti is the co-owner of two hugely popular Italian restaurants. He spoke to TOMOS POVEY of his business and life growing up in Italy, which saw him work for the Carabinieri

“I WAS born in the south of Italy - in a place called Campania.

My childhood was great and I really enjoyed it.

My siblings and I have great parents and we are lucky to have them.

South Wales Argus:

Mum and Dad loved us more than we deserved. They also never missed a parents’ evening.

Italy was a great place to grow up. Because of its climate it meant we could be outside for a lot of the time.

My father ran a business and he always made sure we had food on the table.

As I started to get older, dad ensured that I helped him in the family business. I suppose this experience would go on to help me when running a business.

I loved studying and after school I put in an application to join one of the top food academies in Italy. I was selected for the interview and went through tests. This was during the late 1980s.

Catering had always appealed to me. I remember, as a child, my grandmother cooking and getting me to taste things.

I was accepted into the academy and stayed there for years.

After leaving the academy, my other dream had been to work for the Carabinieri (otherwise known as the military police). I did not think I would get in but sent an application anyway.

South Wales Argus:

Pasquale when he served in the Carabinieri

Soon I was told that I had made it and was called to Rome. I could not believe that I had been successful.

When training I had to learn law, psychology and other disciplines.

Some of my happiest memories are when I was in the Carabinieri. It involved me helping the community and on one occasion we even saved someone.

But there were also difficult moments. One sad moment was when a young man was shot dead.

The experiences were very powerful.

One evening I was leaving the office when a colleague, called Bruno, stopped me and asked me an unusual question: ‘Do you believe in God?’

I was really shocked at this and, as someone who was an atheist, said that I did not believe in God or an afterlife. I was convinced that God did not exist.

I had my own ideas - and Christianity was not one of them.

I even told colleagues reasons to not believe in God.

But from that moment God led me to the truth. Things started to happen which changed my belief.

I then wanted to leave the Carabinieri to go into something different.

I told my father of what I was going to do and he was shocked. He kept saying that I had worked so hard towards it.

My father then came around to what I was going to do and he said: ‘Whatever happens I will always be there for you.’

I then did some travelling and came to Britain.

My friend was at the university in Caerleon at the time and I decided to sign up, too.

I read philosophy there during the 1990s.

And that is what brought me to Gwent.

My brother came over to join me shortly afterwards.

When he arrived that is when we both decided to set up a business and started in Kings Lane, Newport. It was a cake manufacturing business. We were in a small unit, but it soon grew. In no time at all we were supplying food to Harrods.

Then we made the decision to have a restaurant.

We decided on the name Gemelli because the word in Italian means twins. And knowing that I am a twin I thought it would be the best name. I am very close to my twin and my other siblings.

The restaurant is really popular with the Welsh people. And because of this we decided to have another restaurant in Bridge Street.

My family and I love Newport and consider it our home.

South Wales Argus:

Pasquale with Pope Francis

When the business was taking off, God and religion continued to grow on me.

And a few years ago I felt a calling. I then went to my local priest to talk more about religion.

I decided I wanted to become a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. I had to go to Birmingham for a series of assessments.

At the time, I always questioned how I was going to manage the business with religious studies?

But somehow I got by.

Once I was ordained a deacon I was appointed to serve – and still do to this day – All Saints in Newport.

I really enjoy being a deacon.

A lot has been achieved in my life so far. And in 10 years’ time, I hope to carry on building up the business and to always be there for people who need me."