Bustling Italian eatery
THE HOUR of NORWALK - May 30th 2014 - Review by AARON HENDEL
NORWALK -- Giuseppe Cinque has been a prevalent face of Italian restaurants in Fairfield County for over 10 years. He ran Marina D'amalfi Trattoria in Norwalk, Solé in New Canaan, Terra in Greenwich, Siena in Stamford, and, of course, Giuseppe's Trattoria. He has enjoyed success, but admitted he had one fault: expanding to quickly.
Now, however, he is focusing entirely on his new restaurant, Quartino Trattoria and Vineria, in South Norwalk at 120 Washington Ave, formerly the location of Bacchus. It opened for business May 12, and, Cinque noted, has already been packed with customers, particularly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
"The area's really rebounded," Cinque said of SoNo, where until now he's never had a restaurant. "It's a great chance for me, a great opportunity. I like having a restaurant in a city, with all the food traffic."
His customers have remained loyal. Cinque estimated that 40 percent of his patrons so far are former customers from his other restaurants.
Cinque, though, also aims to attract the younger clientele of South Norwalk, including tourists from the nearby Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and other popular attractions, with a "more modern, casual Italian Trattoria," featuring popular music playing quietly inside, open spacing, and "fresh, good food. It's a mix of sophistication with traditional Italian dishes," he said.
The menu is broken down into six categories: Salumi e Formassi, Antipasti, Zuppe e Insalate, Pasta Festival, Pollo e Carni/Pesce, and Contorini, followed by 24 wines, available in four different sizes. In some cases, a glass of wine costs only $6 (quartinos, a quarter of a liter), something Cinque believes customers will appreciate, as he said this is the only restaurant in the state that has this option. The restaurant also features a full bar.
Among the pastas is "spaghetto alla Cinque," with durum semolina spaghetti topped with a marinara broth, olives from Gaeta, Italy, capers imported from Cecily, cherry tomatoes, and a bambino pecorino melted cheese.
"Being from Southern Italy, I'm very superstitious," Cinque said. "(Putting my name in the menu) is good luck."
An already popular meat dish is the scarpariello, an organic, roasted chicken, as well as the weekend-available-only veal shank. Among the starters is a prosciutto selection dish, with three meats, three cheeses, bread, red grapes, and an apricot dipping sauce. Cinque's cheeses, all imported from Italy, feature a burrata cheese from the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
"For the quality food we have, we have unbelievable prices," Cinque said. The key is consistency, he added.
Additionally, there are several pieces of art along a brick wall that according to Cinque is over 100 years old, each representing a different region of Italy. There are photos of Roma cafes and restaurants, Parma delis, small-village winemakers, and mementos to Cinque's home roots of Napoli. Cinque feels his restaurant will succeed because of precisely that: his true Italian roots, and the genuine Italian meal experience he will be able to provide for his customers.
"I have much more knowledge than my competitors," he said, as he raced outside to reel in two passersby, something he used to do as a livelihood in Italy.
Cinque has reunited with Luigi Vincentini, formerly the chef of Acqua Ristorante in Westport.
Cinque's goals include to one day put an oven-brick pizza maker outside for those in the outdoor seating to see and smell, to cater, serve takeout, and even be recognized by Italian food critic companies.
Quartino Trattoria and Vineria features a lunch special from noon to 3 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday for $12.99, and is also open for lunch on Mondays. It is open seven nights a week for dinner. More information can be found at quartinasono.com, or at https://www.facebook.com/QuartinaSono.
"We already have over 100 likes," Cinque said with a smile. "By 2015 we will have over a thousand
Quartina Trattoria & Vineria
Hours of Operation
Monday to Sunday
Serving Dinner from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Tuesday to Friday
Serving Lunch from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm