Restaurateur Q and A: Russell Bellanca of Trattoria Cinque
Trattoria Cinque specializes in thin-crust Roman-style pizzas.
Russell Bellanca is the owner of TriBeCa’s new Italian spot Trattoria Cinque, a restaurant where the focus is on five — five appetizers, five entrees, five desserts and five white and red wines and it changes five times a year. We spoke to him about his new venture.
What was the vision behind the restaurant?
A trattoria, which is usually more casual and homestyle, was something I wanted to do. People are not interested in overpaying for food now. Also, TriBeCa worked because it’s a strong family neighborhood.
One thing we had talked about was doing something they were doing in Europe, which are small, limited menus. That keeps costs down and quality high.
Our tagline is: “Less reading more eating.”
What's the atmosphere like?
We have 9,000-plus square feet. My inspiration was old car factory in Northern Italy. We have images of automobiles and one of private dining rooms is called the Garage. Sections are dedicated to the Vespa and Cinquecento (the first smart car kind of thing); there are old farmchairs painted with Ferrari paint. We’re paying homage to Italy and Italy’s iconic brands. But it’s all done in a subtle, elegant way. [Bellanca’s father owned four of the biggest car dealerships in Rome during the 1960s.]
What are some of your favorite dishes?
There are not many dishes, so we picked extremely carefully. The Caesar salad will be made from scratch in front of people. There are thin-crust Italian pizzas, like the kinds you get in Rome. There’s a gorgonzola, mascarpone, truffle oil and pears that’s really popular. We have the best lasagna. It’s second to none.
Also, we wanted to have a wonderful steak and a chicken. Served whole and roasted. It’s 20-ounce prime-aged rib-eye $25. Nothing is over $25.
What should we expect from the wine list?
We tried about 400 wines and only picked 10. We sell quartinos instead of glasses, so you get more.