In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Nino’s Italian Restaurant.
Nino’s Italian Restaurant is a 54 year old restaurant that opened in 1958.
Nino’s is a family owned and run Italian restaurant owned by Inge and Vincenzo Cristiano.
Inge runs the front of the house while Vincenzo runs the kitchen.
They are now very old with Vincenzo being 88 years old.
Their children Nino, Carina and Michael grew up in the restaurant and when they got older they all became employees.
Vincenzo left the restaurant as dementia set in and eldest son Nino became the manager.
This was much to the annoyance of brother Michael and other family members as Nino sits in his office watching TV all day.
Carina helps in front of the house while Michael helps in the kitchen.
Nino is disruptive and argues with guests.
He is also upset that the family called Gordon for help behind his back.
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 thinks that the restaurant is dated.
Inge greets him and calls everyone together for a meeting.
They all rate the food differently but most think that the food is good.
Michael says that he has a day job but helps out when he can.
Nino says he does a lot of work and cleaning but the siblings dispute his claims.
They say he does not help as much as he is supposed to and Michael and Nino end up bickering.
Gordon sits down to order food and notices lots of typos on the menu.
Gordon orders the egg plant, one meat ball and chicken piccata.
Gordon talks to Michael about the restaurant and Nino butts in wanting to defend himself.
Gordon finds gum under the tables and cobwebs in the corners.
Nino is still adamant that he does clean the restaurant frequently.
Nino then shows photographs of himself cleaning the restaurant and Gordon is puzzled.
Gordon’s meal arrives and the first dish is a Chicken Piccata and the chicken is slimy and floury.
Gordon wants Nino to touch the chicken but he refuses saying it is not sanitary.
The meat ball dish arrives with just one meat ball and it is mushy and soggy.
Gordon wants to ask the chef about the meatballs but Nino is confrontational.
They find out the meatballs were made five days ago.
The next meal is the eggplant Parmigiana but Gordon doesn’t even taste the dish.
Gordon calls the family together for feedback.
He says the food is bad, Nino is in denial and that he is the problem of the restaurant.
Nino refuses to believe that the food was as bad as Gordon tells him it was and starts shouting and swearing at him.
Gordon leaves them and they all bicker on how Michael and Nino need to get along.
Gordon comes back to observe dinner service and sees some suspect food.
There is a Lasagne that was made five days ago as well as five day old sauces.
There is reheated chicken that Gordon throws away and they are thawing pasta and meatballs.
The dishes are sent out quickly but returned with complaints back to the kitchen.
While the restaurant is busy Nino is having dinner with his parents outside then enters the restaurant to stand and stare.
Gordon 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, he meets with Inge to tell her she needs to give Nino a reality check.
They will board up the restaurant and see his reaction to the place closing.
Nino arrives for the morning to meet the boarded up restaurant.
Inge tells him that she is done with the business and will shut it.
Nino is not willing to accept they are done and says he will do his best to make it work if they try for longer.
Gordon meets with Carina and Michael to share what happened and how Nino has promised to step up.
They do not believe that Nino will step up but they agree to give him another chance.
Gordon’s team them give the restaurant a small makeover over the next day.
The restaurant has been brightened up with white walls and white tablecloths.
There new light fixtures and family style tables in one section of the restaurant.
The family are astonished at the changes and love it all.
There is also a new menu of rustic dishes to complement the restaurant.
Gordon puts Nino in charge of expediting for the evening.
On relaunch, customers arrive and they love the brighter ambience of the restaurant.
Nino is in charge of the kitchen, food is going out steadily to the delight of the customers.
However, after a while he starts to get overwhelmed.
The kitchen gets backed up and Michael and Gordon talk to him.
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.
The night ends a success as Nino finds his bearing and the food keeps coming out to the compliments of the customers.
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.
Nino stepped up to take more responsibility.
Inge was still running the restaurant.
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.
This post was last updated in August 2021. [external_footer]