Italy’s Best Cooking Passed Down Through Generations in California


Not everyone grows up to become a successful chef after watching mom or dad make superb dishes. But in the Italian culture there seems to be an exceptional passion for making delicious meals, and the kids that grow up watching parents cook have fairly high success rates when they venture out to launch restaurants or take over the existing business. Pictured is a California youngster whose father owns an Italian bistro called Sebastiani’s. While the boy’s success as restaurateur or chef is not secured, it’s a pretty good bet that he’ll have a head’s up when it’s his turn to cook in the kitchen.

  • Maria’s Italian Kitchen ( Examples of restaurant owners and chefs we’ve encountered throughout California include this eatery’s founder, Madelyn Alfano, daughter of a former Italian deli & restaurant owner. “Everything is absolutely the best you can get,” said Maria Alfano, who the restaurant was named after. A true Italian with a (Hoboken) New Jersey accent, the mother of restaurant founder Madelyn Alfano, created many of the recipes that her daughter now serves in a successful chain of nine California restaurants voted best Italian food in 2011.
  • Nino’s ( A cozy restaurant in Long Beach, Calif. uses recipes handed down through generations, and the comfort foods such as hearty soups draw loyal audiences who come back again and again to enjoy the flavors of those secret pinches of spice. Vincenzo Cristiano from Grumo Nevano, a small province of Naples, Italy, has fed the likes of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, and though Vincenzo has gotten older and doesn’t cook quite so often, his children who grew up in the kitchen from babies in blankets, now prepare meals and pitch in to run the successful business.
  • Temet Grill at Temecula Creek Inn ( is where Executive Chef Sal Giuliano serves up world flavors in sophisticated dishes often with an Italian twist. He also grew up in an Italian kitchen where he was expected to pitch in and help as a child. Sal said it wasn’t something kids dreaded, but instead, looked forward to. They eagerly waited to get their chance to be put in charge, creating new recipes, dishes and flavors

These are but a few of the countless examples of why Italian food is so special in California.

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