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Stefano Barioni’s fish sandwich is moving to Crawl Hill

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Café adios: Stefano Barioni and employee Charos Burrows at the Crystal Caves location where their fish sandwich became popular (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

After five years at Café Olé in Hamilton Parish, restaurateur Stefano Barioni is moving and rebranding, and he is taking his famous fish sandwich with him.

He finishes up at Crystal Caves on April 3 and hopes to reopen under a new name in Hamilton Parish Workman’s Club (Crawl Club) on Crawl Hill in Hamilton Parish.

It may take a month to do so.

Stefano Bariano’s fresh fish sandwich is his most popular offering (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

He was asked to leave by the Crystal Caves management because of the traffic his customers were generating.

“It can get busy at lunch with truck drivers coming and going,” Mr Barioni said. “There are lots of bikes. It can get crazy.”

The Crystal Caves manager, Debbie Ray, said a restaurant named Café Olé will remain, but it will be operated by someone else and will offer a different menu.

“It will cater more to the tourist season and there will be more emphasis on a faster service for the tourists,” she said. “It will be more of a complement to the Crystal Caves.”

She said they were sorry to see Mr Barioni go, and wished him well.

When asked how they would handle the traffic situation in the future, she said: “We will be able to sort that out.”

Mr Barioni has decided to call his new place Mama Mia, because that is exactly what he kept saying when he found out he had to move.

But the change could be a blessing, because the new space will have more parking.

“That is what we needed, so we are not in conflict with anyone,” Mr Barioni said. “And since we can now open in the evenings we will also be offering beef and pasta. We are going to be all right.”

On Wednesday, customers waiting patiently for their fish sandwiches said they would continue to patronise the business in its new location.

“I still have to get my fish sandwich,” one man said.

Mr Barioni first opened at Café Olé with his brother-in-law Phillip Thomas, who later went out on his own to form Mocha Café in Hamilton.

“Summers were pretty busy with lots of tourists,” Mr Barioni said. “But we came up with the fish sandwich because we had to find something to survive in the winter. The sandwich was popular from Day 1.”

And there have been many positive reviews from those willing to put pen to paper to say how good it is.

One Tripadvisor review left in October stated: “The fish sandwich is a staple in Bermuda and there is huge debate about who has the best.

“There are a few places that have historically held the record but in recent times, in my opinion, others have slacked on quality and a newcomer has taken the podium.

“Café Olé has taken the cake! Their fish sandwich is on point! Caves or not, well worth the journey!”

Now, most of Mr Barioni’s business revolves around the fish sandwich, but his fishcake sandwich also has a good reputation. There is also a vegetarian wrap, deep-fried shrimp and breakfast items, among other things, on the menu.

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Published March 24, 2023 at 7:53 am (Updated March 24, 2023 at 7:53 am)

Stefano Barioni’s fish sandwich is moving to Crawl Hill

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