On the heels of another St. Louis institution's closure, Giancarlo's Ristorante (4915 Hampton Avenue; 314-351-8531) owners Tina Campieri and Francesca Taullo are retiring. They opened Giancarlo's in 1987 with Campieri's late husband Giuseppe.
"I'm very emotional about it, but I can't keep on going," Campieri, who turned 72 yesterday, tells Gut Check. "This is my home. But it's time."
Campieri says her retirement comes in the midst of several surgeries, one of which kept her away from the restaurant for a month. Giancarlo's had to close because she and 92-year-old Taullo make everything -- dough, sauces, salads, bread -- from scratch.
"I never did that much advertising because the food was good advertising in my restaurant. Everybody loved my place," Campieri says through her thick Sicilian accent. Sunday was their last day at Giancarlo's; her friends, family and even her new renter is helping her clear out the last 27 years.
"I'm going to travel a little bit. I think I'll go see my family in Italy. My sister, she lives in Milan, and my aunt, my uncle and a bunch of cousins live in north Italy," Campieri says of her retirement. "My sister calls me every day and says, 'When are you going to come over?' and I say, 'Let me finish what I need to finish.'"
Campieri still owns the building, and saw upward of twenty applicants to lease the space. A new restaurant will open in its place, but there's no word on what it will be. She says she chose the renter because she knows she'll take good care of the old Giancarlo's.
Campieri's son, Carlos, did the construction inside to turn it into a nice place for his mother, including marble all around the inside. Carlos loves the restaurant, but Campieri says it's just time for him to do something else.
"I want to say thank you to everyone. We appreciate all these years of supporting us, the restaurant. Especially the neighbors, a special thank you for the neighbors. We love everybody, but we have to just go," Campieri says. "It's sad, but what can I say? We have to take it easy. Especially my mother -- she doesn't stop!"