Nino’s Italian Restaurant

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ninos-restaurant1EverythingLongBeach recently spoke with Carina Cristiano Leoni, Operations Manager of Nino’s Italian Restaurant, via email. They talked about inspirations, challenges and what’s it’s like having a business in Bixby Knolls.

How long have you been in business?:

51 years- since July 31, 1958

Describe Nino’s:

Nino’s is a landmark in Long Beach serving traditional Italian food. Family recipes and a “home-style” comfort are guaranteed. Lunch, dinner, banquets, catering, full bar, and meeting rooms. From baptism events to funerals, we are here for all of your family and business needs.

Why did you start Nino’s Italian Restaurant?

My parents traveled the world and were ready to have another restaurant, but this time with a family feel. They had two young sons at the time and they wanted to be close to their family while working. My father (after being in this country for one year) discovered Bixby Knolls. He realized that not only was this a great place to open a business, but a super place to start a family too.

Nino’s is named after the first born. My father’s name is Vincenzo and he was afraid people couldn’t remember his name. Therefore he named the restaurant Nino’s so that it was a short name and easy name to remember. 

People call my dad: Dad, Vince, Enzo, Nino, Vincenzo, and Boss.

What makes Nino’s Italian Restaurant stand out?

Nino’s offers great service and attention to every detail. This place is old fashioned and the food is wholesome and homemade! No preservatives here. This restaurant is a favorite to many visiting from the East Coast who are missing that local charming eatery. Nino’s is said to be the “whole in the wall” place, but as a very dear sentiment. You can come in jeans, sweats or “dressed up” because it doesn’t matter. Everyone is welcomed no matter what occasion.

Nino’s also stands out as a great supporter of local schools and non-profits!

What is the biggest success Nino’s Italian Restaurant has had?

Life Time Achievement in the Restaurant Industry by the California Writer’s Association. Mike Roy Pioneer Award.

Also, 50th Anniversary!

What is your favorite part of running a restaurant?

The people. We love working with people. We appreciate the 50 years of building relationships with so many wonderful families. We love seeing people grow up and later come back in with their families. We are serving the 5th generation in some families. We love this!

What are the biggest challenges you face?

The economic times are tough. Rebuilding a new following of Nino’s fans takes time as people move away from Long Beach. Plus, there are some many things for families now. How does anyone have time to go out to dinner anymore?

We realize these are busy times and there are so many pressures. We hope to be that homey place though. Where you can go and just relax with a good dinner and good service. Avoid the dishes and time needed to cook. Let us cook for you!

What unique talents do you bring to Nino’s Italian Restaurant?

50+ years of business understanding.

How is Nino’s Italian Restaurant involved with the community?

In every way!

Local Schools we have supported over the years — Los Cerritos Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, Grace, St. Barnabas, Westerly, Hughes, Jordan, Poly, Wilson, Millikan, and more…

Local nonprofit organizations we have supported over the years — Fairfield YMCA, Leadership Long Beach/Connected Corridor, Lion’s Club, Out and About, Cancer League of Long Beach, Long Beach Blast, LBPD Motor Patrol

…and much, much more!

Do you have any future plans for Nino’s Italian Restaurant?

We are realizing that we must grow our banquet and catering services. Everyone is so busy and we need to take our food to them with service when available.

We do private family parties to corporate meetings.

We are in the process of recreating our menu too. Same delicious food, but we are going to add Sustainable Seafood and other healthy options.

What is the best advice that you received and who did it come from?

As a small business owner, it is best to own your property. Rent can be the “death” of a small business owner. I think my parents received this advice from my grandfather (Opa in German).

One Last Thing:

Come enjoy homemade Lasagna, Manicotti, Eggplant Parmesan,Classic Pizza, Antipasto Salads, Shrimp Pasta and much more! Family owned and operated since 1958!

Nino’s Italian Restaurant Details:

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