SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Nicola Ambra realized he desired to be a chef at 4 decades outdated. Past 12 months, on Dec. 21, childhood desires turned a reality for Ambra who opened Gastromaniac with his wife Terri Wong in South Lake Tahoe.
Ambra and his spouse a short while ago celebrated their one 12 months anniversary of opening their restaurant, bringing classic, authentic handmade Italian pizza and pasta to the South Tahoe local community.
Gastromaniac also won “Best New Restaurant” in the Tribune’s Finest of Tahoe 2020 Awards.
Eighteen several years back, Ambra traveled to California for a rock climbing excursion in Yosemite, and like numerous, made the decision to move listed here. He to start with moved to San Francisco and frequented Lake Tahoe following a friend in Reno showed him around the basin.
“Tahoe blew my thoughts,” he reported.
The bordering snow-capped mountains and large lake felt like property to Ambra who grew up at Lake Como in Italy. Near the border of Switzerland, Lake Como is a small town in the foothills of the alps.
“I was completely ready to go back again to the mountains,” he claimed.
Ambra moved to South Lake Tahoe four many years back and began performing at eating places to establish his career.
Even though Ambra has labored at 5-star lodges this kind of as Lake Como’s Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Villa D’este spanning to relaxed places to eat, he also went to culinary faculty at Alma Cooking University in Parma and Pizza Italian Academy in Milan through his vacation again to Italy.
“I fell in enjoy with the pizza entire world,” he stated.
For the duration of his time at the Pizza Italian Academy, his idea of Gastromaniac begun to get shape. With a fitting title that about translates to “food maniac,” Ambra was completely ready to start out a new journey.
Ambra manifested his aspiration of bringing genuine Italian foods to Tahoe in 2019 and opened his restaurant.
Ambra imported recipes — along with ingredients like flour, rice, healed meat, added virgin olive oils, tomatoes to identify a couple of — straight from Italy.
He tends to make an work to source components as shut to his hometown in Italy as possible. The gorgonzola and Taleggio cheese utilized in the dishes will come from the exact same city he is from.
“A several fantastic good quality elements can make a fantastic dish,” he claims.
Just one pasta dish, the Mafaldine, is named in honor of his grandmother, Mafalda, who was Ambra’s 1st inspiration and assisted him uncover his enthusiasm for cooking and “where it all started off.”
Ambra says he nonetheless remembers sitting upcoming to his grandmother as she cooked, he would stick his palms in the flour and whilst he was just participating in all over, he thought it was just “so amazing.”
30-5 a long time later and Ambra says he nevertheless thinks it’s so neat.
Ambra is at the cafe every day. A person other worker and Ambra create specialty, Italian dishes.
Gastromaniac offers simple, but vintage pasta dishes. Shoppers decide on their noodle and sauce from tomato basil, three cheese sauce, pesto sauce (if in season) or a meat bolognese.
They also present pizza that arrives in basic 13-inch 1-sizing with several selections for toppings.
The to start with number of months of opening, Gastromaniac was flourishing. Then the pandemic struck in March.
Ambra jokes with his spouse, “Baby, I maintain on the lookout at our small business plan but I just can’t uncover the pandemic any where.”
Ambra states he attempts to keep a beneficial way of thinking about his small business and the challenges they are dealing with.
“In February we had been acquiring a terrific response from locals and vacationers,” Ambra stated.
In March, they had to layoff their personnel. He claims at first, they have been truly worried.
“It was just my spouse, our 2-year-aged newborn and I performing the restaurant,” he claimed. “The incredible Tahoe local community has supported us the complete time.”
He claimed that they hardly ever envisioned having to shut their dining area three instances in their initially yr of being open.
“The previous pair weeks have been actually complicated, but we are continue to in this article,” he reported. “This is continue to my aspiration, nonetheless coming genuine.”
Gastromaniac is open up for consider-out and curbside pickup. For extra information and facts pay a visit to gastrotahoe.com.