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Big birthday bash with champagne and olive oil for Il Bordello in Wapping

PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 February 2018

Cienna Mustafa (left) and sister Nadina keeping the Bordello going on its 20th anniversary in Wapping. Picture: Mike Brooke

Cienna Mustafa (left) and sister Nadina keeping the Bordello going on its 20th anniversary in Wapping. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Meet two sisters passionate about olive oil who don’t let you leave their family-run restaurant feeling hungry—then you must be in Wapping.

Serving up... Giacomo La Barbera, head chef at Il Bordello. Picture: Ken MearsServing up... Giacomo La Barbera, head chef at Il Bordello. Picture: Ken Mears

The famous Il Bordello eatery had its 20th anniversary with a big birthday bash and free champagne and cake for its diners, packed into the converted High Street warehouse opposite Wapping police station.

The sisters, former Sunday newspaper journalist Nadina Mustafa, 36, and art student Cienna, 21, decided to carry on their dad’s legacy when he died two years ago.

They keep the family business going with older brother Tekin, 37, and a loyal staff, with wines and food served with olive oil that they buy directly from small Italian vineyards in Tuscany.

The Mustafa family with granddad Djemal Ali, 91 (centre), celebrate Il Bordello's 20th anniversary with champagne. Picture: Mike BrookeThe Mustafa family with granddad Djemal Ali, 91 (centre), celebrate Il Bordello's 20th anniversary with champagne. Picture: Mike Brooke

“Our family is obsessed with olive oil which can make or break a dish,” Nadina admits.

“We visit the vineyards where you see how wine is produced and aged in barrels. It’s the same with olive oil which is even harder to get right.

“Dad just loved Italian culture, even though he was Cypriot. His Italian friends would say he is ‘more Italian’ than them.”

Staff of Il Bordello on its 20th anniversary... Pietro Ferreli, Annette Sutcliffe, Aniko Bindics,Carmelo Vecchio and Nino Emini. Picture: Ken MearsStaff of Il Bordello on its 20th anniversary... Pietro Ferreli, Annette Sutcliffe, Aniko Bindics,Carmelo Vecchio and Nino Emini. Picture: Ken Mears

Jan Mustafa ran a modest restaurant in Bermondsey, near Tower Bridge, when diners suggested in 1998 that he open in Wapping which had few places to eat out.

“This neighbourhood used to be known for its docks and brothels,” Nadina explained. “My dad thought that was quite funny, so he named the business after the local heritage as a tribute. Taxi drivers will know where we are.”

Il Bordello dishes out hearty portions, part of the Mediterranean culture where “it’s rude if you go home a bit hungry”.

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