Brattisani's: An Edinburgh institution
TWELVE years since the last portion of their famous fish and chip empire was wrapped up for good, memories of Brattisani's remain strong.
Brothers Charles and Joe Brattisani were once in charge of one of Edinburgh’s best-loved businesses, a tale which began well over a century ago.
Their forebears emigrated to Auld Reekie from Parma in the 1870s, one of the first wave of Italian families to settle in the city.
Opened in 1889 by Charles and Joe’s grandfather, the original fish and chip shop was located on Church Lane, Stockbridge - the Capital’s first ever Italian-owned chippy.
When their grandfather enlisted with the Italian army during the First World War, the shop was kept going by his wife. Thankfully, Brattisani senior survived the war, and upon returning to Edinburgh the pair decided to open a new outlet - the Deep Sea - on Union Place. Eventually sold on to fellow fish and chip restaurateurs, the Crolla family, the Deep Sea was long-regarded as the finest chippy in the city.
Following the demolition of Union Place in 1970, the Deep Sea moved to Antigua Street where it remains to this day.
Next to be handed the Brattisani fish ‘n’ chips baton was Charles and Joe’s dad, Joseph, who would go on to be known locally as “Mr Chips”. Joseph owned five restaurants at one time or another throughout Edinburgh. Charles and Joe followed in their father’s footsteps.
Charles Brattisani opened his first shop in 1961, lending the family name to what became a very popular fish and chip restaurant on Henderson Row. Meanwhile, Joe ran another busy chippy on Brougham Place, Tollcross.
The Haymarket and Newington branches, arguably the most famous of all the Brattisani-run emporiums, were opened in 1966 and 1970 respectively. Both of these chip shops survived for over three decades, building up excellent reputations for dishing up quality fare.
For many Edinburghians, no hard day’s swim at the Royal Commonwealth (Commie) Pool was complete without a hunger-nullifying detour to Brattisani’s on Newington Road - its memorable red seating booths were a trip back in time to the year it opened.
Over on the west side of the city, visits to Murrayfield and Tynecastle were often complemented with a post match supper at the branch on Morrison Street. The queues would stretch right round the corner beyond the Haymarket Bar.
Between the 1970s and 1990s, Brattisani’s were a key feature of the Edinburgh family day out. They were the first chip shop to receive a four star rating from VisitScotland, and renowned enough for Ian Rankin to name-drop them in his Rebus novels - a true institution.
Unfortunately, as the old cliché goes, all good things must come to an end - even institutions. Both brothers, despite their status as chip shop celebs, were getting sick of the long hours and late nights.
The busy Haymarket shop closed for the last final time in late 2002. An emotional Charles, who now runs his own antiques business, told the Evening News at the time: “Of course we’ve got misgivings about giving up Haymarket, because it’s been an institution. “Certainly rugby fans are going to miss it because Murrayfield matches have always had them queuing into the street. In fact, many of them will get a shock on Saturday when Scotland take on Romania.
“Although we claimed that it was the best-known rugby fish and chip shop, it’s been very popular with football crowds as well, with Tynecastle just up the road. “Big-name footballers themselves would come in, as well as showbiz people
“The worst thing about it is that we were a happy team there.”
Brattisani’s on Newington Road followed suit in 2004, with none of Charles or Joe’s children able to take the reins - the last remnant of a vastly-successful family empire which stretched back over one hundred years.