Grass Valley’s Trattoria Milano restaurant to close its doors |

Grass Valley’s Trattoria Milano restaurant to close its doors

Chef Gianfranco Naffezzoni will serve the final meals at Trattoria Milano in Grass Valley Sept. 17.
Lorraine Jewett photo for The Union |

Know & Go

Trattoria Milano

124 Bank Street, Grass Valley

Tuesday through Sunday, 5 – 9 PM

Phone: 530-273-3555" target="_blank">Text">

A Grass Valley restaurant that became a mecca for lovers of authentic Italian cuisine will close its doors later this month.

Chef Gianfranco Naffezzoni will serve the final meals at Trattoria Milano Sept. 17.

The popular restaurant opened March 31, 2013.

“I used to go mushroom hunting with the landlord, and one day he told me the restaurant building was going to be available to lease,” said Naffezzoni.

For Naffezzoni and his wife, Deniris, managing Trattoria Milano has been a labor of love — of food and friends.

“We have regulars who come in every single week, and sometimes twice a week,” said Naffezzoni, “They are friends of ours, not just customers. I know what they want to eat. I know what they like to drink. Most of the time, I’m busy cooking in the kitchen but I try to greet my customers as time allows.”

Naffezzoni, who was born in Milan, first learned his craft at a culinary school in his home town. He’s been in the restaurant business in some form or another for nearly three decades. He still speaks with a heavy Italian accent even though he immigrated to the United States 20 years ago.

“We offer authentic Italian cooking,” said Naffezzoni. “We don’t do alfredo or spaghetti and meatballs. Those aren’t Italian dishes and nobody in Italy does them.”

Instead, Trattoria Milano serves traditional Italian fare such as Ossobuco alla Milanese (braised veal shank with Milanese-style rice), polenta and veal scallopini.

“We do some dishes from the Mediterranean because I like very much to cook seafood,” Naffezzoni said. “Plus we serve the traditional, continental cuisine of Milan. I like cooking because it’s creative. You can use a lot of imagination. It’s nice to prepare ingredients and see how they come together in the right way.”

“Our hotel guests have loved being able to walk across the street and enjoy some of the best Italian cooking in Nevada County,” said Gold Miners Inn General Manager Sean Gilleran. “Everyone we’ve sent there raves about the food. Having Trattoria Milano as our neighbor the past four years has been great. We all wish Gianfranco and his wife the very best.”

The regulars rave, too.

“We love their Italian food,” said restaurant regular Buck Wilson. “One time I ordered the pork dinner and it was absolutely in abundance, plus extremely good. The service is great and the waiters are personable.”

When he first opened, Naffezzoni served lunch and dinner seven days a week. Lunch was the first to be eliminated.

“I gave up lunch because I don’t like to serve fast, inexpensive lunches,” he recalled. “Then we went to six days because I decided I was tired and wanted a day off!”

Trattoria Milano serves an average of 40 to 90 dinners each night, Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant seats 74 inside, plus another 40 on its outdoor patio. Naffezzoni is looking for a smaller facility.

“I’d like a restaurant with a maximum of 40 seats,” he said. “But I’m also ready to take two or three months off.”

Not only is Naffezzoni looking for a new location, he and his wife are in search of a new place to rent because they live in an apartment above the restaurant.

“It’s been convenient because we come down in the morning, make coffee, and have breakfast,” he said. “Now we’re ready to live somewhere different than where we work.”

If he can find a suitable restaurant location, Naffezzoni said he’ll tweak his menu.

“It will be a new concept, but I won’t disclose what it is,” he said. “It won’t be specifically Italian, but I guarantee it will be great food.”

Until then, Naffezzoni said closing his current restaurant is bittersweet.

“I want to say thank you for all the support I’ve received from my customers. Grass Valley is a great city. It’s been an honor to serve everyone and meet so many new friends.”

Naffezzoni is planning a few dinner specials for Trattoria Milano’s final day.

“I haven’t decided yet, but they will be extra, extra special,” Naffezzoni promised.

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at

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