Not only is Le Cinque Stelle (“The Five Stars”) one of the finest Italian restaurants in the Treves (Trier) area, it’s a restaurant with a heart… Call it Mario di Criscito’s home away from home, but better yet, call it his dream. The restaurant is named after the owner’s five children: Francesco, Sara, Chiara, Laura and Davide. So, with the stars in the name revealed, it is time to tell you what you can expect from this small-town eatery on Germany’s Mosel River.
When Mario opened in Schweich in the Summer of 2012, the veteran restaurateur faced several difficult challenges. First, he had to convince the public that this was a good addition to the town’s already colorful culinary landscape. With two other Italian restaurants in Schweich, both a short walking distance away, and both ideally located to become hot-selling points, Le Cinque Stelle really had only one chance to shine: its cuisine.
Before this Italian ristorante-pizzeria, a rather mediocre Greek restaurant inhabited the space. That restaurant, blessed with “no competition” environment whatever in Schweich, didn’t need much effort to woo its patrons. In fact, aside cheap prices for lunch menus, and the free ouzo at the end of the meal, there was actually no wooing involved. Fast forwarding to now, therein lies Mario di Criscito’s second challenge: to overcome the former’s restaurant less than stellar reputation.
To begin with Mario revamped the interior of the restaurant, stripping it of the faux-Greek kitschy artificial decorations, and then creating a less intimidating environment for lovers of authentic Italian cuisine. A pristine, white environment, too sterile to create an impression, yet refined by subtle touches, like flowers at every turn, and artistic images of Treves landmarks, reveals a fresh new alternative to the ubiquitous pizzeria or trattoria.
The restaurant’s formal appeal is counter-balanced by Mario’s own personality: warm and welcoming, one feels right from the moment of entering the door, and he greets every client with a cheerful Ciao.
Le Cinque Stelle is on Brückenstraße 30, the main street that goes through the heart of the town, known for its official landmarks (the City Hall is a few meters from the restaurant), but also for its eateries. There are at least four other restaurants competing with Le Cinque Stelle on this street alone, one of which offers Italian cuisine too. The eatery to beat however, lies right across the street: it’s the Schweicher Hof, always recommended by the ViaMichelin guide, popular with tourists and locals alike. And this is Mario’s third, and most difficult challenge.
With no travel guide aware of Le Cinque Stelle’s existence, and no advertising campaigns to make the public aware, the restaurant relies on the occasional passerby, and word of mouth. And it’s amazing what these two natural developments achieved so far: opened for dinner only, the restaurant fills quickly with lots of locals coming to enjoy the friendly hospitality of the owner, and flawless, authentic Italian fare. And with Treves a short five minutes drive away, don’t be surprised to meet the occasional tourists enjoying a Chianti and a pizza here either.
Despite this natural success, Mario isn’t immune to the fear of failure, keeping cautiously optimistic about the restaurant, and a second job in Luxembourg to avoid any potential impact of a lesser profitable month on his family. This is the way of entrepreneurs, particularly of the Italy persuasion. But Mario is not afraid to plan ahead -- and we’re told he has big surprises for the local community. For starters, he plans to open the only smoothie-cocktail Summer garden in the area, the ace that could take the Schweicher Hof down a notch if played right.
Le Cinque Stelle is nearing its busiest seasons: Spring and Summer mean a lot for all restaurants in the area: wine festivals, city events, the reopening of the town’s leisure pool and park, the reopening of the camping by the river, which will attract many tourists here, all these and other sunny magnetism are plusses for Mario’s dream. Luckily, Mario will not face the crowds alone. His son, Francesco, will be there, winning their hearts with his sparkling Italian smile, and a courtesy you’ll never find across the street (in all honesty).
There are other things you’ll never find across the street: fine Italian wines and prosecos from Venice, Emiglia Romana and Toscana complement a menu of homemade gnocchis, pansotti and ravioli, and mains divided into pizzas, pastas, meats and fish. And best of all for some, the pizza prices range from €8 for Bella Napoli to €13 for the restaurant’s signature creation, Pizza Cinque Stelle, with rocket and with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Fridays are busy and special -- Le Cinque Stelle being the only restaurant in town to serve a delicious, fresh fish soup. And sure thing, the homemade desserts -- Italian classics like panna cotta, tiramisu and gelato -- are to die for.
And since we mention that the busiest season is starting now, there’s one last thing you should know. While most restaurants in Treves take bookings, Le Cinque Stelle provides clear flexibility for its guests. Like a true trattoria, it will welcome you at any time, from Tuesday to Sunday, after 17:30. No reservations, just come in, and tell Mario you read his story on The Epoch Times. You’ll be in for a surprise.
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