IT'S a remarkable feat that Al Molo has become the number one-rated restaurant in the county town on popular review website TripAdvisor while its head chef has been recovering from treatment for stage four head and neck cancer.

Despite losing some of his ability to taste and to speak - and now having to eat a liquid diet - Giuseppe Vannucci’s passion for creating some of the most raved about seafood dishes in the area kept him working at the restaurant throughout his cancer treatment.

He and co-owner Tim Newton have forged an enviable word-of-mouth reputation in Dorset that draws diners to Al Molo, in the historic 17th century Judge Jeffreys Lodging House in Dorchester's high street.

Bournemouth Echo: Giuseppe VannucciGiuseppe Vannucci (Image: Supplied)

Come July this year the restaurant - which has a strong focus on local catches combined with traditional Italian cuisine - will have been in Dorchester for two years.

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It first opened at the Pier Bandstand in Weymouth in 2015 and the move to the county town felt right, Giuseppe and Tim say, because there was a gap in the market for an independent seafood dining spot like Al Molo.

“We decided to come to Dorchester because there wasn’t a fish restaurant in the town and I’ve always wanted a fish restaurant – that was my dream,” Giuseppe said.

Bournemouth Echo: Scallops Al Molo styleScallops Al Molo style (Image: Supplied)

“A lot of customers from Weymouth followed us up here. Dorchester has lots of restaurants, but mostly chains and I think we’re doing something slightly different.

“People who would come from Sherborne to us in Weymouth are now coming to us in Dorchester because we’re well positioned.”

Al Molo has two full time chefs, one part time chef and five part time serving staff and offers 85 covers across two floors in its beautifully preserved building, where dogs are made welcome.

Bournemouth Echo: Al Molo in High West Street, Dorchester Al Molo in High West Street, Dorchester (Image: Supplied)

One of the duo's first actions when taking over the ‘beautiful’ premises from its former incarnation as a Turkish restaurant was to ‘lighten the place up’ and restore the fireplace in the oldest part of the building back to its former glory from a lurid bright red paint colour.

Guiseppe was inspired to become a chef because he comes from a family of restaurant and hotel owners – “It was in my blood,” he says. “I’ve always liked food,” he adds.

Bournemouth Echo: Guiseppe's hand-made pastaGuiseppe's hand-made pasta (Image: Supplied)

The first dish he cooked for someone else was lasagne. His favourite dish currently on the Al Molo menu is a smoked mackerel pickled rainbow radish in raspberry vinegar with smoked salmon parcels apple celery coulis and apple salad. Fish is smoked on the premises.

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Giuseppe's culinary guilty pleasure food is any kind of baking, whipping up homemade focaccias, rolls, bread.

He also likes cooking in the French sous vide style, in which ingredients are secured in a protective vacuum-sealed bag, then are placed in a temperature-controlled water bath with a circulator.

Giuseppe loves using local produce including asparagus from the New Forest, sea bass and crabs from Portland and Baboo Gelato ice-cream from west Dorset, beer from Piddle Brewery and cider from Dorset Nectar.

Bournemouth Echo: A seafood dish at Al MoloA seafood dish at Al Molo (Image: Supplied)

He thinks the next big restaurant trend will be vegan dining, and is passionate about creating vegan dishes from scratch.

Al Molo is popular with lunchtime diners, offering a three course meal on Mondays to Fridays for £24 and does regular wine tasting events with the five course tasting event on June 13.