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Monday, July 10, 2006
R.I.P. Nina's Italian Restaurant
No one heads to the coast in search of spaghetti. I've always imagined that only locals dine in the occassional Chinese and fast food restaurants that break up the monotony of establishments specializing in fried oceanic critters. While I've never eaten chow mein in a place with an ocean view, I was once and am forever a big fan of Nina's Italian Restaurant in Manzanita.
So I shed a tear when I pulled into their parking lot last week to find an entirely different restaurant had taken its place. Nina's lasted only a year in its new digs after moving up the highway from its previous Wheeler location in the spring of 2005. A lot of the place's charm hadn't made the move but, when I visted last summer, the owners were still cranking out the best meatballs I've ever had.
What made Nina's so special in its formers digs wasn't just the meatballs or the garlic breadsticks that tasted like mana from heaven. The inside was like something out of the world's most cliched gangster movie. Red checkered table cloths, ancient framed photographs of the old country and a straight-to-the-point menu consisting mostly of Italian staples. The lounge in the back was lit mostly with candles and resembled the set of a straight-to-vodeo Godfather knockoff. Nina's looked like it was warped into the 21st century from the 1960s and, as far as I know, Italian restaurants like this don't exist anymore.
In my book, wooden panneling, comfort food and imported beer with pictures of mobsters on the label go a long way. Nina's also played host to the first time I dug into a taco pizza. I don't think I made it past a single slice. There are some places where sour cream just doesn't belong and on top of a pizza is one of them.
Nina's, you will be missed.