A NEW fish restaurant with a focus on local produce and Italian flavours has opened its doors to diners in one of Dorchester's most historically significant buildings.

Award winning Italian restaurant, Al Molo, co-owned by Giuseppe Vannucci and Tim Newton, opened its first restaurant on Weymouth's Pier Bandstand in 2015, has now expanded with its second restaurant opening in Dorchester.

Al Molo Dorchester, Ristorante Di Pesce, located in the historic Judge Jeffreys Lodging House on Dorchester’s High West Street, welcomed its first diners into the building on Wednesday, July 27.

The owners say they have dedicated seven months to the refurbishment of the listed 17th century building, with the pair working sympathetically to restore the original features, previously hidden by years of paint and neglect, and invested heavily in re-establishing the architecture of the building.

Co-owner, Mr Newton said: "It is humbling to work with a building with such a rich heritage and importance in the town. However with the amount of work that needed to be done and Giuseppe’s treatment for cancer, we had to put back the opening date.

"With Giuseppe on the mend, we were able to take the time to respect the integrity of this historic building. Stripping back the years of neglect has taken months, but it has been worth the hard work to restore stunning features, sympathetically design the interiors and refurbish outdated infrastructure to reveal a new, functional and rather beautiful setting to enjoy good food”.

Mr Newton added: ”The fireplace was coated in layers of thick paint with areas of damaged stone and years of grime. It is gratifying to see it restored to its original glory and it looks stunning."

Head chef at the restaurant, Mr Vannucci, has created a new menu with a strong focus on local catches combined with traditional Italian cuisine.

Mr Vannucci, said: "The fish from our local waters is second to none and I have been developing these menus over a number of years in readiness for the perfect setting to serve them. They combine the fresh taste of our seas with traditional Italian cuisine. It is a pleasure to bring these new dishes, together with my new vegetarian and meat options, to the table in a setting which complements the quality of the produce."

Dorchester Mayor, Councillor Janet Hewitt said: "This new restaurant is a most welcome addition to the High West Street, not only because it has saved a historic asset in our town from further neglect and is creating more employment opportunities, but also for bringing a quality dining experience celebrating local produce to our doorstep."

The new restaurant is still hiring is urging those who are interested in working in the hospitality industry to get in touch.

Mr Newton added: “As we ramp up business we will be creating further employment opportunities and urge those looking for work in this fast paced and rewarding industry to get in touch now. We offer flexible hours, a friendly environment and fantastic training for those looking to work in our prestigious restaurants.”

Al Molo Dorchester Ristorante Di Pesce (fish) is open for Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm with last orders at 9pm. It is open for lunch, Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 2.30pm and Sunday 11am to 3.30pm.