Kitchen Nightmares - Nino's Italian Restaurant - CLOSED

Nino's Italian Restaurant Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Nino's Italian Restaurant, a 54 year old Italian family restaurant, in Long Beach, California.

The restaurant was opened in 1958 and is owned by Inge and Vincenzo Cristiano.

Their children Nino, Carina and Michael grew up in the restaurant and when older all became employees.

Vincenzo left the restaurant as dementia set in and eldest son Nino became the manager, much to the annoyance of brother Michael, as Nino sits in his office watching TV all day.

As a last resort they have bought Gordon in as they are losing customers and money and Inge is funding the restaurant with her retirement money.

Gordon arrives and asks for the family to all sit down together, they rate the food as good and Nino tells Gordon that he works hard.

The family disagrees with him, an argument breaks out and Michael unloads all his frustrations about his brother.

However, the family all agree on one thing - that the food in the restaurant is good.

Gordon orders the egg plant, one meat ball and chicken piccata.

As Nino is telling Gordon about his heavy cleaning regime Gordon discovers gum under his table and cobwebs all over the dining room.

To prove his point, Nino shows Gordon photographs of himself cleaning...

The chicken picatta is dreadful with floury and slimy chicken, the meatball is mush, soggy, bland and dreadful as it was made 5 days ago.

Nino refuses to believe that the food was as bad as Gordon tells him it was and starts shouting and swearing at him.

Gordon arrives to observe a dinner service. He discovers a strange frozen lasagne and dry chicken.

The dishes leave the kitchen quickly but are sent back and Carina finds Nino eating dinner with Inge and Vincenzo.

He goes into the walk in and finds the rotten mushrooms, frozen meatballs, pasta in water, unscaled salmon and worse.

Gordon tells him he is not doing his job properly  but he says that Inge is stopping him, whereas she says he is lazy.

The next morning, Gordon meets Inge to let her know he is going to board up the front of the restaurant as if it is closed and wants Inge to tell Nino that she is shutting the restaurant.

Nino arrives to a boarded up restaurant and says he wants to fight to keep the restaurant open.

Carina and Micheal do not believe that Nino will step up but they agree to give him another chance.

Gordon gives the restaurant a makeover with new family tables and the menu also gets a revamp.

On relaunch night, Gordon puts Nino in charge of expediting in the kitchen.

The customers love the new makeover and are impressed with the new decor.

Food leaves the kitchen at a good pace and the customers enjoy the food.

As more orders come into the kitchen, Nino starts to get overwhelmed and the kitchen gets backed up.

Michael tries to help and makes things worse, Gordon tells him to leave the line and Nino gets the kitchen back on track.

Gordon chats to Michael and tells him to cool down but Michael shows Gordon he isn’t able to put the past to one side.

Despite a rocky in places relaunch it is overall a success.

The family meet afterwards but Michael walks out and is generally negative about the relaunch and changes.

What Happened Next at Nino's Italian Restaurant?

In the following weeks, Michael distanced himself from the restaurant and Nino stepped up to take more responsibility.

Inge was still running the restaurant and Carina decided to spend more time in the restaurant alongside her day job.

Customers have said that they use their old menu at lunch service and use Gordons new menu at dinner.

Eventually they reverted fully back to their own menu.

Yelp reviews were mixed after Gordon visited.

There are negative comments about slow service, burnt pizza bases and the lasagna seems to have been subject of mixed reviews.

Michael became the subject of many Kitchen Nightmare's Nino Memes.

Vincenzo Cristiano sadly passed away in 2014.

Nino's Italian Restaurant closed in August 2016 due to their wish to retire and spend more time with the family.

Carina Cristiano released an official statement on Facebook, posted below -

It’s Time to Say Good Bye - Nino’s celebrated its 58th Anniversary on July 31, and will be closing its doors on August 14, 2016. This is my family business and I was born into the restaurant family.

We didn’t expect the outpouring of customers upon announcing we are closing Nino’s. As a result, we have been running out of sauce, pizza dough, lasagna, and meatballs every night! Starting early every morning to cook we are proud of everyone’s effort to making our closing a tribute to my dad, Vincenzo “Nino” Cristiano.

What an honor for us that guests are flying in from Texas, Atlanta, Washington, and Miami for a “last meal” with us! Some of our guests flying in just for the night and out the next day. As a family and staff, we are truly touched by this outpouring.

We have enjoyed all the heartfelt memories shared and it is nice to see the frequency of people (every day if not every other day) wanting to get their last fill of old fashioned Italian. Definitely an era is ending with the closing of our doors representing the 1950’s Italian families meeting America with their cuisine.

One of my favorite songs is by Dean Martin, “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” makes us feel very good about our closing the doors in respect to the outpouring of love you have given us in the last few weeks of business. It has been an honor to serve and cook for you since 1958! We are grateful for the many friendships and cherished memories born at Nino’s. Heartfelt thank you for a wonderful ending, “That’s Amore.” We love you too!

Friday, August 12 will be the last day of operation for the full service dining. Due to recent phone calls, text messages, and private FB’s messages, we are trying to accommodate more people over the weekend even with our banquet rooms booked. We have prior booked banquets so we will only have one dining room available for August 13 and August 14. Thursday night (August 11) and Friday (August 12) night we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Dinner hours will be from 3:30 to 10 (kitchen closing at 9 pm). Saturday and Sunday 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

Our history: July 31, 2016, marked 58 years in business for my family owned and operated legacy restaurant. Vincenzo “Nino” and Inge Cristiano opened the doors on July 31, 1958 one day in advance of their scheduled opening. My parents, Vincenzo and Inge Cristiano were new immigrants to America, landing in Long Beach in 1957 with my brothers a 4-year-old and 2 week old Nino and Mike.

My parents started their restaurant business a year later when they took roots and their hearts felt at home after their world travels. My father’s brand for his new local eatery was “A little bit of Italy in Long Beach” and that is what he brought with his delicious antipasto salad, homemade minestrone soup, pizza, lasagna, manicotti, eggplant parmesan, chicken cacciatore, and much more!

Over the years, my family grew and each person had their contribution to the restaurant dynamics. My father had several nicknames including: “Nino Senior” Mr. Cristiano Boss, and The King. As a family we worked tirelessly in our restaurant business. I started hosting when I was 5 years old and full station waitress by 11 years old. I remember being in first grade and asking my teacher for the “tax sheet” so I could add taxes to the addition problems she gave me to do.

Our 16 table cloth restaurant grew by a large dining room, private fireplace dining room and, one banquet room with a full cocktail service bar. My father was also the person who petition and “fought City Hall” for outdoor patio dining. In my later teens we added a full scale catering service to our facility as well.

My dad was also the leader in enforcing the smoking ordinance stating “it was unhealthy for customers and his staff to inhale second hand smoke!” I personally never had to suffer bronchitis again once the ordinance was in effect. From a personal experience, I know having nonsmoking restaurant establishments improves the quality of life for employees.

One of my contribution to our restaurant and business community was being a founding member of First Fridays. I knew Bixby Knolls needed transformation in arts, culture and small business. I also knew I needed to find a way to get our retail partners along the corridor to stay open later. As a result of my tenacity, teamwork mentality, and vision, I worked on securing funding from F&M Bank and Wachovia Bank.

I also recruited other businesses and took a concept to reality with implementation. Working alongside our other founding members, Keith Lewis, Peter Dopulos, Doug Orr, and Krista Leaders, we created a lasting monthly event now taken over by the Bixby Knolls Business Association. Thanks to these efforts it encompasses the Bixby Knolls Atlantic Corridor from San Antonio Drive to Wardlow Road.

Nino’s Italian Restaurant is filled with rich memories and 5 generations of patrons. My family (Mother Inge, Brothers Nino and Mike, and Niece Jaclyn) and staff (Alfredo, Alvaro, Valentine, Ervin, Pedro, and Ivin) of many years has served many dinners, first dates, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, reunions, corporate dinners, and even funerals. Sadly, even my dad’s funeral was held there on October 21, 2014.

For us it isn’t the same without Dad. My mom is 82 years old and as a family, we have decided to close the doors and retire this family business. I personally feel it is the right time for us to enjoy more meals and outings together than to work serving meals. We had a wonderful life and met so many wonderful customers now considered friends, but I think it is a good time for us to move forward in life.

I like what my brother Nino Cristiano (namesake of business) says, “Most families do not spend the amount of time together that we have, working alongside of one another and on our days off we are together too. We love the restaurant and the memories, but it is time for us to just be a family and not a restaurant family.”

On August 14, 9:00 p.m. we officially say good bye to our restaurant life.

Nino’s hours will be 3:30 to 10 pm nightly from August 1 to August 12.

The building was sold for $2,055,500 on 31st January 2017 but in August 2019 the property remains empty and available to lease.

In 2018, Carina told followers of their Facebook page that the remodel was done using cheap furniture and both the chairs and tables were not fit for purpose.

Nino's Italian Restaurant was aired on February 22 2013, the episode was filmed in July 2012 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 6 episode 9.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Sam's Mediterranean Kabob Room

Next episode - Mill Street Bistro


This post was last updated in August 2019.

Share this post

24 comments:

  1. He lowered the quality, and quantity, of the food here, while raising its prices. He has no concept of how we Long Beach-ians prefer our food. However, it got better a month ago. But overall, Nino's was far more spectacular before Ramsay wiped his rear end with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. My wife and I have been going there for the past 9 years off and on. And to our surprise we went in and noticed that the place changed significantly. No more fish tank in the center but the menu was on a diet but the prices werent. I contemplated walking out until the waiter told me that it was on kitchen nightmares so I gave it a try. Well its safe to say that I wont be going back. I hate Olive Garden but I guess ill give it a try again.

      Delete
    2. I strongly disagree, I think Ramsay made the place a hell of a lot better then it was before, the food quality before he got there was mediocre at best, it was neither quantity nor quality, and Nino was the only one who ever wiped his ass with that place.

      Delete
    3. Oh, here we go again, another person saying how great the restaurant was before hand; if it was so great why did they need to call shows like this?

      Delete
    4. Publicity. Maybe they have a bad lease and are trying to sell the business. But, you know what this is when you sign with Ramsay. As for me, I'd rather watch the British version. At least you learn something.

      Delete
    5. Wrong.The American version differs from the British version for a reason.It is prime time here so they have to jazz it up,but the heart of the show and business acumen he provides remains.
      If the place was so stellar prior you were in the minority,since the community obviously didn't support it eventually.Who's to say you have any standards or ability to gauge good food anyway.They need to cater to a business model not your lowbrow taste.

      Delete
    6. Thanks for posting the negative review, Mike. It's nice to know that you're still bitter about Ramsay choosing your brother over you, but then it was obvious from watching the episode that you would be.

      Delete
  2. It looks like, the whole show was staged and all people was acting according to ramsey script!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree, especially the part whereRamsey "faked" closing the restaurant, it was one of the most badly awkwardly scripted pieces I have seen. Damn you US reality TV and your need for fake drama.

      Delete
    2. Of course it was staged, it's Reality TV. Everything about it is scripted. The reason they have become so popular is the are cheap to make for the networks, don't have to pay actors with big ego's a million an episode or more but don't kid yourself, Reality TV isn't reality. It's scripted just like everything else.

      Delete
  3. That's gotta be a blow to the ego...saying that the revamp dropped the food quality below Olive Garden.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I thought the other brother (Michael?) was making almost as much trouble as Nino himself... yes, I do laugh at his "I'M NI-NOOO!" line, but he wasn't doing anything to keep the peace, and that might not have been such a bad idea to try if only for their poor mother's sake. Love this site; thanks for all the research!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hated the old look and feel of the restaurant , but I actually prefer the new menu because it feels cleaner and simpler , I like the presentation of the food too

    ReplyDelete
  6. I loved the old décor and am neutral at best to the new look. It doesn't look like a classic Italian restaurant at all now, which was its charm. I only ate there a few times before the overhaul, but never had cause to complain about the food. However, the new, homemade tiramisu is spectacular where the old store-bought version was merely great (who doesn't love tiramisu, even from a package?). The new menu is too Spartan where I agree with Ramsey that the old menu was overbearing. The prices went up, the portions diminished. That was a little disappointing, although I overeat often so that was probably a good change. The food seemed as good as before, but as I say I only ate there a couple of times before Ramsey showed up. Overall, I would say it could use a little more menu selection, a slight drop in pricing, and the old décor was superior. Good luck to Nino and family. Hope it all works out for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It seems to me that many of the negative comments could be written by Mike. I looked at their menu, and saw the portion sizes, they are a good fit. The prices are reasonable, when compared to similar restaurants, as are the serving sizes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What I don't understand is why do these places immediately go back to their "old menus" after GR leaves. (See Chappy's - "...looks like Chappy took a crappy in my soup!...") When a 3-star Michelin chef with incredible taste buds says your food sucks...... IT PROBABLY DOES. Here is a comment on Yelp from the daugter at Nino's:

    ***************************************************************************************************
    Comment from Carina C. of Nino's Italian Restaurant
    Business Owner
    25/6/2014 Hey Jay Z. Learning more and more about YELP so sorry for the delay in response. We have only 2 menu items from Chef Ramsay on the menu. Our customers of many years wanted all our menu items back and this has been the case since December 2012. Sorry if there was any mix up when you were in about where the dining options came from. I can assure you that we proudly serve our Nino's traditional menu items with the same chefs of 30+ years. Mom and Dad are still there daily. Mom still working at 80 years young. Dad retired due to health issues at 90 years old. He now gets to just eat and enjoy his recipes while talking to guests. On your next visit to Nino's, please have one of our food servers assist you if you have any questions when you are ordering your dinner or lunch. As a heads up, the two menu items from ChefRamsay are: Spaghetti Arrabiata (seafood pasta) and Bianco Pizza ( an additional Veggie Pizza option)

    **********************************************************************************************

    Really!!?? Hey, our restaurant is failing, but let's go back to DOING WHAT DIDN'T WORK BEFORE. Our 30 "customers of many years" will keep us open! Yeah buddy!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know!! I'm always amazed at how some of the owners or family members worry and complain that their "regulars" won't like the new menu...all five of them. When they're on the verge of bankruptcy.

      Delete
  9. 1. Long time customers are comfortable with the old menu and generally don't want changes. That is a fact.

    2. When you cook fresh, the costs do go up compared to cooking frozen and canned. That cost is passed to the customers. How often do you go to a store and fresh veggies have gone up, or meats, ect.

    3. In most cases portions at places in trouble are too much. So any reduction in portion size will seem to be a slap in the face to those that eat there for dinner and take home their lunch for next day or two.

    4. You want uncut reality? just look at last season's Survivor. They showed a clip that was uncut and It Was Boring. No one would want to watch a show that is uncut. Yes you will have some good moments but you will have 10x the amount that is just boring.

    5, Is there things that are "Faked" or "Staged" of course there is, but again if there wasn't then it would be boring as well. Its the overall changes that matters, not just how you got there.

    6. Look at all these shows, including Kitchen Nightmares, Bar Rescue, ect., The places that stayed with the changes (in general) are still open, even couple that changed back is still barely open. Those that went back to their old ways are in general, closed.

    7. Menu's in use for years don't account for the businesses cost increases. How many would be upset if the menu remains the same except the prices are increased. Every long term customer who don't want changes will complain.

    In conclusion, Ramsey and the others that try to help peoples businesses, are really trying to help. Not everyone is going to agree with the changes or even accept them. You will lose some regular customers who don't want any changes, wont be happy but the new customers will be. Costs increases for businesses just as they do for people buying for their own use at home.

    People will be willing to pay for good, fresh food. You cant get great food at fast food prices. It's not realistic.

    ReplyDelete
  10. *popcorn*

    30 years ago the market wasn't the same at all. These days food even have his own tv channel/tons of shows and many people like doing it at home. Even the kitchen in home design is now together with the table guests eating in open concept; used to be a room alone far from them. Being a restaurant is way harder than before, a lot less people coming in; young people addicted on fast food and mid aged are doing great dish at home with their superior kitchen and marble counter top.

    What i like about Gordon is that he knows that very well and make owners realize "Why these people would come to your restaurant?". Quantity over quality? fast food chain have that already, and perfected the taste, you wont be able to compete with them or the frozen food market. Only thing that can make your restaurant viable is the food quality - decor - ambiance.

    I don't mind when i heard the owner going back to their old menu but i sure hope the food passion and quality is there. I work with people that sometimes been doing the same thing wrong since 40 years, you just need to be open minded to improve; even that 300 years old recipe can be improved, just don't be static and "doing it like it always been".

    ReplyDelete
  11. Based on photos from their Facebook page, they have totally dumped all of the decor changes made by KN, and have gone back to an old-fashioned, dated look for the restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the only thing they brought back are the chequered table cloths.

      Delete

New comments are currently switched off whilst I am working on a major site update.

Progress - Currently rewatching episodes, updating recaps and updates and adding date of last update to each post.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.