New Italian restaurant now open in downtown Grass Valley
Special to The Union
Know & Go
Ristorante Alloro Cucina Italiana
Owner: Enrique Torres
124 Bank St., Grass Valley
11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday
5 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
They grew up in Mexico and speak Spanish.
So why are three Latino brothers opening an Italian restaurant in downtown Grass Valley?
“Because we know Italian food,” said Enrique Torres, owner of Ristorante Alloro Cucina Italiana, open now at 124 Bank St.
Enrique is joined in his new venture by two brothers. Victor is a server, and Juan helps with ordering supplies and ensuring the freshness of menu items, including purchasing from local farms. The trio opened the restaurant on Saturday.
While new to business ownership, Enrique became a veteran of commercial kitchens after he immigrated to America in 1991.
“When I came here, I began working in Italian restaurants in San Francisco,” said Enrique. “I started washing dishes, then making bread and pizza.”
After being promoted to chef at well-known restaurants in San Francisco and San Rafael, Enrique moved to Grass Valley in 1999. He began working as chef at Villa Venezia until it closed in 2013. That restaurant was in the same building that now houses Alloro.
He also worked as a cook at Trattoria Milano, the Italian restaurant that closed several weeks ago, again at the same site Enrique is opening Alloro. Rounding out his local Italian restaurant experience, Enrique has also been the chef at Sergio’s Caffé downtown.
Now that he’s renting the building and opening Alloro (which means “bay leaves” in Italian), Enrique is cautiously confident.
“Being an owner is a big job and very different,” he said. “I have more responsibilities than showing up, working, and getting paid. Now I pay the bills, do the shopping, and plan the menu.”
Alloro serves panini and pizzas, pasta, pollo (chicken), pesce (fish), and carne (meat) dishes. Anything that can be housemade, will be, said Enrique. Customers will choose from an extensive beer and wine list. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Victor’s plan is to work as the head waiter. Juan may move here, but isn’t certain. Other friends whom the brothers have worked with at various Italian restaurants are also joining the staff. Many of those friends were born in Italy.
“We have a lot of Italian friends,” said Victor.
For the three brothers, English is their second language. Other than “bon giorno” and a few other Italian phrases, none speaks Italian.
“But Spanish and Italian are very close,” said Victor. “I can understand Italian but don’t speak it. And when I speak Spanish to an Italian who doesn’t speak Spanish, they can still understand me.”
The Torres brothers said they plan to become deeply involved locally.
“We’ll get involved in the community,” said Victor. “We know we are opening a business in a very giving, generous community, and we’re going to be a good neighbor.”
One of the restaurant’s neighbors is the Gold Miners Inn, and the general manager there is pleased another Italian restaurant is opening across the street.
“When Villa Venezia was there and later Trattoria Milano, we referred hotel guests there and they’d return raving about the food,” said Gold Miners Inn General Manager Sean Gilleran. “We’ll do the same with Enrique’s restaurant, and we’re looking forward to helping him achieve success. We know they’ll be a great amenity for the hotel.”
The restaurant seats 68 inside and 26 at the outdoor patio. Enrique said he hopes western Nevada County residents will embrace Alloro’s authentic Italian cuisine and fill those chairs.
“We’re going to be successful,” he said. “We will offer good prices, plus excellent food. We’ll have the best customer service and respond to special requests. We’ll get to know our customers, what they like, and how they like it.”
Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. To suggest a business news feature, contact her at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.
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