In the interest of full disclosure, we consider Nino's Ristorante Italiano a world-class Long Beach treasure. We decided this years before launching LBReport.com which has proudly displayed an ad for them since we debuted.
(August 3, 2006) -- Just days before celebrating 48 years in business, Nino's Ristorante Italiano -- a family-owned Bixby Knolls icon at Atlantic Ave./Roosevelt Rd. and the oldest Italian restaurant in Long Beach -- was struck by a graffiti vandal(s) on or about July 26-27 who defaced an artistic mural on the building's north wall. [To deny the vandal publicity, we pixeled the graffiti].
The costly mural (along with two Roman fountains named for Inge Cristiano and Carina Cristiano Leoni, wife and daughter of Cristiano-family patriarch Vincenzo Cristiano) brought touches of elegance to what would otherwise be a parking lot wall.
As first reported Aug. 2 on LBReport.com's front page [check www.lbreport.com at all hours for flashes/developing stories as they break], LBPD is investigating whether this graffiti vandalism may be linked to suspects arrested over the July 29-30 weekend nearby in the area of Temple Beth Shalom in the 3600 block of Elm Ave.. (Another suspect was arrested in NLB a few days later). (LBPD says it doesn't believe the Temple Beth Shalom area incident was a hate crime, just more mindless vandalism.)
LBReport.com was awaiting further details from LBPD on the Nino's crime when we photographed an inspiring and separately newsworthy sight: a skilled mural artist was removing the graffiti and reconstruct the mural to its former beauty.
On August 2, Guillermo Avalos, the mural artist who created the elegant Bixby Park History Mural (130 Cherry Ave., dedicated in December 2005) and a co-worker were restoring the Nino's mural. The task involved first cleaning off as much of the graffiti as possible, matching the paint type and color and replicating the original artistic style and strokes (it's skilled work and isn't easy).
The Cristiano family made contact with Mr. Avalos through the office of 8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich. One major difference: the Bixby Park Mural was funded by the 2000 Parks Bond Act, Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 & the City of Long Beach.
Mr. Avalos' reconstruction work for the Nino's mural is being paid for by members of the Cristiano family.
On July 31, Nino's began its 49th year in business at the same Long Beach location. Its inside walls are filled with photos of fans (including retired Mayor Ernie Kell and spouse retired Councilwoman Jackie Kell; former CA Attorney General/now Northern CA Congressman Dan Lungren and Hollywood VIPs) along with commendations and awards.
Retired Councilman Frank Colonna and Redevelopment Agency Boardmember Terry Jensen both worked at Nino's while growing up in the area.
The menu includes traditional Italian favorites prepared based on real family recipes...and includes delicacies we haven't seen on corporate restaurant menus [our favorites: cauliflower pancakes and, on some days of the week, a spinach/carrot soup].