(July 24, 2002) -- "Nino's Italian Ristorante," LB's oldest Italian restaurant and a Bixby Knolls icon on Atlantic Ave. at Roosevelt Rd., is about to enter its 45th year.
The award winning eatery draws LB VIPs (ELB Councilwoman Jackie Kell and former Mayor Ernie Kell are regulars), its walls adorned with photos of local officials (Mayor Beverly O'Neill, former CA Attorney General Dan Lungren among them) and a fair number of Hollywood names.
The family owned restaurant is a genuine original, inseparable from the family members who built it.
The result is something closer to a family kitchen in a comfortable, cozy home. Where else can you get cauliflower pancakes and a combination spinach and carrot soup?
Nino's is not an ordinary place.
In 1957, Vincenzo Cristiano and wife Inge (having survived wartime Europe) arrived in LB with two sons (one four years old, the other four weeks). They brought with them family recipes handed down from generations beyond current memory. (Photo right, Nino's circa 1958)
The result: by the time Vince and Inge celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this February, the restaurant they built was serving a fifth generation of LB patrons. The couple still dotes over Nino's daily and most nights, baking, cooking and managing the operation.
Vince (78), an accomplished chef in his own right, still tends to matters daily.
He is a familiar sight in the kitchen, making sure things are done to his standards.
Inge (68) is at the restaurant virtually every day.
And yes, she tends to literally everything.
The couple's adult children Nino (49), Mike (45) and Carina (35) are also part of the operation. Carina Cristiano Leoni manages a full Catering and Banquet Department and Nino Cristiano handles Corporate Delivery.
At a recent Bixby Knolls street fair, Vince and Inge (in photo left) were all smiles as crowds lined up outside Nino's for pizza.
Proud of their American citizenship, Vince and Inge worked hard and built a real life American dream in LB.