On the 8 of March, here in Italy we use to celebrate the International Women’s Day. On this special day, I am pleased to introduce you Margherita, Salvatore Aprea’s wife. If Salvatore, Chef and owner at the “Da Tonino’s” restaurant, enchants everyone with his dishes, Margherita has dedicated herself to the dining room and hospitality, joining a long and important tradition of hospitality in Capri, with a pinch of innovation.
Margherita, born in 1990, comes towards me smiling, as she always does welcoming her guests: standing at the wooden door of the restaurant, at the end of a stone path surrounded by a vegetable garden. The Natural elements return in the furnishings of the room, enriched by elegant design objects. Margherita is a young Capri woman, energetic and strong-willed, and I can’t wait to discover and to tell you everything about her work.
Margherita, have you started to work in the hospitality field here at Tonino’s, right? Yes, that’s right. Before this job I used to work in boutiques. This year will be the nineth at the restaurant for me: nine years of engagement and nine of working together with Salvatore. We got engaged in May and I started working here in June. From 2014 to 2020 I carried on both jobs, during the day I was in the boutique and in the evening I was in the dining room. All these things never abandoning my studies at the University and my degree thesis in Psychology. You’re an amazing woman, tell me some of your tricks, please! Which are the most important skills at the beginning of this job? At the first time it wasn’t simple: two jobs (one completely new) and the studies, but I’m very happy about my choise right now. When you work in the reception of a restaurant it’s very important to be a good mediator: between the kitchen and the dining room, inside the dining room itself, and clearly between the customer and the kitchen. We often find ourselves among many fires. My luck was precisely to being new at this: I was a sponge, a carte blanche. Salvatore was able to make me understand which kind of welcoming best would match his ideal of hospitality and thanks to this our voice can today be an only one. I am very happy to hear you say that. How did you manage to create a nice atmosphere in the room? With my presence. I’m always there for all the collaborators and I see when someone needs an help. The boys often turn to me for advices, they trust me and for this I have always been respected. I am a direct and frank person: it’s essential to me to face a problem when it arises: in the evening, after the service, we sit down at the table all together and everyone is asked to say what they have to say. In this way everything can be resolved and we can work well together. Which one is the most important thing, in your opinion to give a good welcome, and which one makes your own welcome? First of all: treat the customer as you would like to be treated when you go somewhere.We are very lucky because we have a unique location, different from all the others on the island. The customers come to us after an amazing walk: they can enjoy wonderful views of the island and here, away from the chaos of the center, they can finally relax in an a such suggestive atmosphere. Our terrace in the garden is meant to be an oasis of peace, taste and beauty. The dinner begins telling the customer our history and the stories of our dishes, so dinner itself is a real discovery journey. Our welcome, our smiles, are that much important because the wellbeing of every customer is so important to us. Your customers wellbeing is at the heart of everything you do, isn’t it? Yes, when you work in a dining room, when you work in the reception field, you become the face of your business. Here at Tonino’s with our welcoming we are the way in which the restaurant presents itself and it can be perceived. And we must be the eyes and ears of the Chef too, as Salvatore always says. We have to bring the dining room into the kitchen and the kitchen into the dining room, telling the ideas behind every dish. We change our menu very often, at least three times every season, and everyday you can find extra dishes besides the menu.This is inspiring! Not only for the people who come but also for us. We want the customer to come back because has loved his experience and also because he is curious to taste everything else! Keeping talk about food, Margherita, I ask you: what is that dish… Cacio e pepe, mussels and lime Tortelli. You didn’t hesitate for a moment! And the Tortelli are both your favorite dish and the one that you mostly recommend? Yes, that’s my plate. I would divorce if Salvatore would took it off the menu (laughs).In my opinion the Tortelli are my husband’s signature dish: the dish that best allows you to really get to know him, together with his special rabbit.The tortello reveals a unique explosion of taste, you can’t expect anything like that. Normally the tortello dough is very thick and is almost intrusive compared to the inside. Salvatore’s tortello, on the other hand, is completely different, the very thin pastry reveals a truly explosive filling: cheese and pepper are an important flavour, but here comes the freshness of the lime, the taste of the sea in the mussels. For me tortello is love. What a beautiful thing to say! Last question, what is the greatest gratification in this job? The greatest satisfaction is when a customer, once he finished the dinner, before leaving, comes to me at the cash desk and says: “thank you, we had a great time, it was a wonderful evening”. From now on, our conversation is too rich in spoilers about the summer news, and it’s not the time to reveal them yet.Hoping to have pleased you with our chats, we send the sweetest wishes to all the women who will read us. Thank you Margherita, for your time and your precious stories.