Small Business Saturday Blog

Pizza power

Wednesday, November 24 at 06:00

Husband and wife team Sweet and Maurizio D'Apollonio tell us about their recipe for success in food and business.
Maurizio Dining & Co is a neighbourhood, independent Italian restaurant and wine bar in Cambridge that invites customers to relax and taste the ‘real Italy’, with gourmet pizzas and homemade pasta sauces, along with wine from small Italian vineyards.
The restaurant was opened by husband-and-wife team Sweet and Maurizio D'Apollonio in 2017. New to the hospitality industry, but full of passion for the impact that good food can have on people and communities, they describe the experience as a huge learning curve.
However, a core approach has guided them to success. They have a ‘three E philosophy’: ‘enhancing’ customer dining experience, ‘encouraging’ working and socialising in a collaborative way, and ‘empowering’ their team to be the best they can be.
It’s working. The couple were named one of Small Business Saturday’s inspirational SmallBiz100 for 2021, as well as gaining high praise from local customers and celebrity fans.
This includes former Dragon Theo Paphitis, who described their homemade tomato sauce - cooked ‘just like mamma makes’ using just five ingredients (Italian tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, passata and salt) - as “smelling and tasting amazing”.
The restaurant is very much embedded in the community. Where possible, they source produce locally and are involved in a campaign to make Cambridge even more engaging and accessible, with less traffic and more pavement culture, to enhance the local high street. They have also commissioned local artists to paint bespoke artwork to display in the restaurant.
Sweet told us: “It's all about making our customers' experience the best it can be. This means serving delicious Italian food and drink, delivering exceptional service, and engaging within our local area.”
In the year the restaurant was launched, The Centre for Cities 2017 report identified Cambridge as one of the most unequal cities in the UK, with local food poverty on the rise, even before the pandemic began. So Maurizio Dining & Co. has been on a mission to help tackle this, working with local organisation Cambridge Sustainable Food (CSF), which aims to facilitate a more environmentally and socially equitable food system that is good for people and the planet.
Maurizio Dining & Co. can be found giving out pizzas and pastas on a regular basis at various Community Food Hubs. And Maurizio himself recently ran the Cambridge Half Marathon to raise just over £1,000 for CSF’s work, as well as fundraising for its work on the restaurant’s website.
The team is also working towards a Sustainable Food Business Award with support from CSF. This includes making their packaging as environmentally friendly as possible, using less plastic, recycling glass bottles, and collecting all their corks to make ‘cork curtains’. One of their delivery partners is a new business called Foodstuff, which offers car-free delivery using only bicycles.
Maurizio Dining & Co is one of the local businesses taking part in the American Express Shop Small campaign and its offer which incentivises Cardmembers to support their local small shops and restaurants from 4-15 December.
This follows additional Shop Small Offers that American Express ran in Summer 2020 and Spring 2021, as well as December 2020 to help support small business to recover following COVID-19 lockdowns.
“When big global brands such as American Express reach out to support small local businesses through initiatives such as Small Business Saturday, it means we are all working together to make a contribution to our community,” says Sweet.
“It’s been a difficult 12 months, but we believe that we have the stamina, vision and people power to stay strong and succeed.”
Maurizio Dining & Co. is currently open five evenings a week for eating in, collection and delivery. Visit them at 44 Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AS or online here. See Maurizio & Co. Dining on the American Express Shop Small map here.

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