Margo’s, the popular Neapolitan pizza restaurant situated at Mistra, is furthering its status as a Community Hub by offering certain products not found on local shelves at cost price.
In November, when Margo’s Mistra was given recognition as a place that supports a wider community by its patrons, chef and owner Claude Camilleri reacted by saying that “We rediscovered the art of giving and it is in giving that we gain so much more.”
Last week, Mr Camilleri, in a post on Facebook, highlighted the sterling work done by local artisans in producing authentic food.
“Support local produce,” he said. “Incredible sheep ricotta from Pri Cassar. Price is irrelevant. It is worth every penny. Amazing richness of taste.”
Addressing his followers, he added, “If any of you would like to take some home, we are ordering weekly. Let me know in advance and I will order it for you. As always, retail is not our thing so we charge same price as we buy it.”
“Part of our community hub promise.”
WhosWho.mt reached out to Mr Camilleri to find out more about this offer.
“As a restaurant we have struck the right balance between price and quality,” he starts. “I do not want our guests to eat rubbish so we put a lot of effort to source the finest ingredients, and if we do not find them, we make them ourselves.”
He says that the idea came about after realising that premium quality products are often out of reach for many.
“We have our own family and we understand how tough things can be. It is hard to make ends meet sometimes.”
“So,” he continues, “we thought, ‘Hey, we use these amazing ingredients for our restaurant. I go up to Sicily to source certain things. I source directly from producers I have been working with for years. We know each other. We trust each other.’ So why don’t we make them available to our community?”
Mr Camilleri’s passion for quality food takes over as he describes the items he works hard to procure or produce.
“We know how important it is to have extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for example. But not just your standard stuff. Our EVOO has won so many awards and has been given the 'folie' by Gambero Rosso (top rating) for years now."
“Same with our grana. Not just grana, but a three-year-old mature grana.”
He continues listing, “Organic tomatoes, sauces, jams, preserves, soap, condiments, ham, guanciale, bacon, pancetta, sausages, cured and smoked salmon and other fish, bread, you name it, we do it.”
“And we sell it at the same price we buy these things for, or at the cost we make them for.”
Asked how this can make commercial sense, Mr Camilleri is emphatic that, “Our revenue stream is the restaurant. The rest is our way to bring our community together, to help families in their daily struggles, to encourage people to eat better.”
Acknowledging that “it is a bit of a privilege that we do not have to take money into consideration when we develop a concept like this”, Mr Camilleri says that as long as the costs are covered “we are happy”.
“This is the least we can do as a thank you to our ever growing, amazing community. I never thought 15 years ago that we would be doing what we are doing today, but believe me, I would not have it any other way. We are so, so blessed.”
He credits his patrons for the restaurant’s continuing success and innovative practices.
“Our community are our friends and that makes all this so much more worthwhile,” he says.
“When you have a group of 700 people you can rely on, and they on you, life becomes a rich experience.”
He even describes Margo’s as something that “has evolved into a magical energy instigated primarily by the people who make up this community.”
“Life without money is liveable,” he says.
“But life without our community is not worth even considering. Life without our friends is not worth living.”