SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Nicola Ambra knew he required to be a chef at 4 a long time previous. Very last yr, on Dec. 21, childhood goals became a actuality for Ambra who opened Gastromaniac with his spouse Terri Wong in South Lake Tahoe.
Ambra and his wife not too long ago celebrated their one year anniversary of opening their cafe, bringing classic, genuine selfmade Italian pizza and pasta to the South Tahoe group.
Gastromaniac also received “Best New Restaurant” in the Tribune’s Best of Tahoe 2020 Awards.
Eighteen yrs ago, Ambra traveled to California for a rock climbing excursion in Yosemite, and like lots of, decided to shift listed here. He initially moved to San Francisco and frequented Lake Tahoe immediately after a buddy in Reno showed him all-around the basin.
“Tahoe blew my head,” he reported.
The encompassing snow-capped mountains and big lake felt like residence to Ambra who grew up at Lake Como in Italy. In close proximity to the border of Switzerland, Lake Como is a small city in the foothills of the alps.
“I was completely ready to move back again to the mountains,” he said.
Ambra moved to South Lake Tahoe four many years back and commenced performing at places to eat to build his vocation.
When Ambra has worked at 5-star hotels these as Lake Como’s Grand Lodge 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 during his trip back again to Italy.
“I fell in adore with the pizza world,” he claimed.
In the course of his time at the Pizza Italian Academy, his notion of Gastromaniac started off to take shape. With a fitting title that roughly interprets to “food maniac,” Ambra was completely ready to begin a new journey.
Ambra manifested his aspiration of bringing reliable Italian food items to Tahoe in 2019 and opened his cafe.
Ambra imported recipes — alongside with components like flour, rice, cured meat, further virgin olive oils, tomatoes to name a few — straight from Italy.
He tends to make an hard work to resource substances as shut to his hometown in Italy as attainable. The gorgonzola and Taleggio cheese applied in the dishes arrives from the exact town he is from.
“A several great good quality ingredients can make a good dish,” he states.
One pasta dish, the Mafaldine, is named in honor of his grandmother, Mafalda, who was Ambra’s very first inspiration and assisted him find his enthusiasm for cooking and “where it all started out.”
Ambra says he however remembers sitting subsequent to his grandmother as she cooked, he would stick his fingers in the flour and even though he was just enjoying about, he believed it was just “so great.”
Thirty-five decades afterwards and Ambra suggests he nonetheless thinks it is so awesome.
Ambra is at the restaurant day to day. One other worker and Ambra create specialty, Italian dishes.
Gastromaniac provides easy, but vintage pasta dishes. Consumers decide on their noodle and sauce from tomato basil, a few cheese sauce, pesto sauce (if in season) or a meat bolognese.
They also present pizza that comes in typical 13-inch a single-dimension with quite a few alternatives for toppings.
The very first few months of opening, Gastromaniac was thriving. Then the pandemic struck in March.
Ambra jokes with his wife, “Baby, I maintain looking at our business approach but I can not obtain the pandemic any place.”
Ambra states he tries to retain a favourable frame of mind about his enterprise and the worries they are going through.
“In February we have been acquiring a fantastic response from locals and visitors,” Ambra mentioned.
In March, they had to layoff their personnel. He suggests at 1st, they had been genuinely nervous.
“It was just my wife, our 2-12 months-aged newborn and I functioning the restaurant,” he said. “The astounding Tahoe group has supported us the full time.”
He reported that they never envisioned possessing to close their dining room 3 times in their to start with yr of being open.
“The past few months have been genuinely tough, but we are continue to listed here,” he reported. “This is even now my aspiration, however coming true.”
Gastromaniac is open up for take-out and curbside pickup. For extra info go to gastrotahoe.com.