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A family feel at Goomba’s

If you’re in a large, extended family and they love Italian food, it only seems natural to open a restaurant.

That’s what Larry and Nancy Mello’s relatives plan to do with Goomba’s Italian Family Restaurant, now under construction on Colfax Avenue across from Les Eva Field at Memorial Park in Grass Valley.

“I’ve got five kids and 10 grandkids, and they’ll all be involved,” Larry Mello said. “We used to own Pizza Gardens in Colfax, and I’ve built quite a few restaurants, so that kept me enticed and we decided to take this on.”



They’re hoping to open in September with wood-fired pizza, a variety of pastas including lasagna, salads, wine and beer, with seating for 160 people, according to son-in-law Craig Hamilton, a Nevada Union High School and culinary institute graduate.

The son-in-law is married to Lore Reynolds-Hamilton, the widow of Drew Reynolds, a well-loved UPS employee who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Grass Valley four years ago. Hamilton used to drive by the site thinking he could fix it up and noted how natural it might be to have it across from the ballfield where his wife’s former husband is feted each year. So did his father-in-law.




“We’ve done the Drew Reynolds Softball Tournament (for charity) right across the street for five years, so Memorial Park has a pretty deep meaning for us,” Mello said. It will also bring foot-traffic for the pizza, which Hamilton said will also be sold by the slice from the restaurant, along with other take-out dishes.

“Goomba is old Italian slang for my brother or compadre,” Hamilton said. “We’re trying to give the place the feeling of a family environment and Italian home cooking.

“There isn’t much in Grass Valley in the mid-market range with good meals at good prices,” he added. “We’re not coming into a crowded market.

“We’re talking about pizza and pasta here, not a five-star restaurant. We’re a family in the community with a lot of friends and we wanted to give it that family feel.”

Hamilton has worked in restaurants in Napa and Colorado but always remembered the wood-fired pizza place he worked in as a youth.

“It was simple food and fun and really good pizza,” Hamilton said. “I was drawn to that again.”

The son-in-law will cook, along with brother-in-law Mike Malarae. Mike is married to Kim Malarae, who is Lore’s sister and another Mello daughter.

“Mike’s mom’s maiden name was LaRusso and they were always cooking Italian food when he grew up,” in New Jersey, Kim said. “We’re really excited.”

They will be joined by third daughter Michelle McCune, and son Tim Mello. Son Ryan Mello died in a vehicle accident some years ago, and the family is looking at making a positive out of the restaurant in the wake of the two crashes that have taken loved ones, Larry Mello said.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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