CELEBRITY chef Gino D’Acampo paid a surprise visit to Darwen when he dropped in on a town centre deli.

And the Naples-born 37-year-old, who visited Deli Carlo on his way to recording for the BBC in Manchester, has pledged to return for a good look around the area.

Gino, perhaps best known for his appearances on ITV’s This Morning, befriended deli owner Carlo Ricioppo after the Darwen businessman appeared on ITV’s ‘There’s No Taste Like Home’ with the star.

The two, Carlo said, have kept in touch, and Gino had always wanted to come to Darwen to see the Italian delights on offer at Carlo’s Darwen Market-based store and cafe.

Carlo said: “I have known Gino for while as I was on one of his shows a few years ago.

“I had spoken to him and told him what I did and he had been itching to come and see the deli.

“I had to keep it really quiet as Gino didn’t want any publicity ahead of the visit, he just wanted to come in and see what we do here.”

Mr Ricioppo, who sells a variety of Italian meats and other produce, said it had been a busy day at the deli.

He said: “We had a really busy day but when he got here it went really quiet.

“He wasn’t able to stay long but he couldn’t wait to try one of our sandwiches.

“And when he had gone he sent a text to say it was one of the best sandwiches he had had, which was very nice.”

Carlo said Gino had been very impressed with what little bit of Darwen he had seen and had expressed a desire to come back.

He said: “It was great to have him here and he has also promised to come again.

“He was very impressed with the front of the market where we are and he was asking about India Mill chimney.

“I think he was quite impressed with the town and said he hoped to have more time next time to have a proper look around.”