Mario brings taste of Italy to south Shropshire

A chef from Italy is bringing the taste of the Mediterranean to a recently renovated Shropshire holiday park.

Ashlea Pools lodges in Craven Arms have recently opened up a cafe and Pizzeria on site which is now open to non-residents. In Picture: Mario Baciu
Ashlea Pools lodges in Craven Arms have recently opened up a cafe and Pizzeria on site which is now open to non-residents. In Picture: Mario Baciu

Chef Mario's Pizzeria has recently opened at Ashlea Pools lodges and holiday park in Hopton Heath near Craven Arms after the company renovated its reception area during lockdown.

The family run business, which offers holiday homes to own or hire, spruced up its reception area, installing the pizzeria and a coffee shop – open to non-residents to allow the local community to visit and sample Mario's dishes.

Mario Baciu moved to the UK after years of cooking school and travelling, before he continued his journey and met the team at Ashlea Pools.

"Chef Mario's Italian Food was born in lockdown when I was in Wales," he said. "I started it three months ago so I could make authentic Italian food. I am from Montova in Italy, about two hours outside of Milan in northern Italy.

Chef Mario runs the Pizzeria and rustles up some amazing pizza and pasta. In Picture: Mario Baciu

"My teacher always said to me, make your food as authentic as you can. I have travelled and worked all over Europe for the past 11 years, from Germany to France. I tried to put on this menu to reflect that. I tried to put all 11 years hard work into the menu and the food here."

Leanne Lewis, office manager, said: "The whole reception area was a lockdown project. We reopened on July 4, as soon as holiday parks were allowed to open, that's when we opened. Mario joined the team in July.

"We have got a coffee shop as well and just generally spruced up the area. Ashlea Pools is a family run business and we try to employ staff from the local area, support local businesses and charities."

Mario said he was delighted to be trusted by the owners to bring his little slice of Italy to south Shropshire and the local community.

"This was like a gift to me," Mario added. "It is my responsibility and I feel so proud."

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