BY VINCE REMBULAT
Elias Nino enjoys seeing familiar faces at his new pizzeria, sitting around while engaged in conversation.
That’s part of the reason for opening Papa Nino’s in Manteca at the corner of Cottage and East Louise Avenue — former home to the Eight Dollar Pizza Truck.
“I want to bring family-style of enjoying meal together back in,” he said on Monday. “I think we’re losing some of that day-to-day community interaction due to technology.”
Papa Nino’s held its grand opening on Feb. 1. Nino, who grew up in Riverside County town of Corona, had fond memories of making pizzas in his younger years.
His wife Krystale is from Dunsmuir near Mount Shasta. As fate would have it, they met in Manteca —where north meets south in the middle of the state — with both relocating to the Central Valley for various employment opportunities.
“I was doing HVAC with family and she was working hair and insurance,” Nino recalled.
They got married not too long ago and began planning for their future. Enter Papa Nino’s.
His wife helped guide him through the process of making possible this business endeavor, from securing the finances to organizing the plan.
It took two to three months to get the space ready for business. There is more than 1,200 square feet inside with seating enough to accommodate 20 to 25 people. ‘The Sounds of Sinatra’ music adds to the ambiance of the pizzeria located at 1231 E. Louise Ave.
For Nino, it didn’t take too long to get into the swing of making pizzas because it’s always been a part of his life, event as a youngster.
“I’ve never really stopped making them – it was usually at home for friends and family,” he said.
Nino uses fresh ingredients while pre-making most of his meat toppings. His dough is made daily from scratch.
“My pizzas are about the toppings. I want everything to be consistent,” he noted.
Papa Nino’s offers vegan choices, which suits Nino’s wife, as well as anything fit for carnivore.
“We have mama menu that’s vegan (artichoke hearts, spinach, garbanzo beans, egg plants, etc.) and a papa menu with the choice of meats, cheese and dairy products,” Nino said.
For the carnivore, he’ll soon offer brisket and tri-tip to go along with the usual menu topping choices — pepperoni, Italian sausage, beef crumple, bacon, meatball, Canadian bacon, salami, diced ham, to name a few.
“We’re planning to have a ‘Carnivore vs. Vegan… Eat a Pizza Contest,’” said Nino, who indicated the winner would get something like a free pizza for one month.
He and his wife are also planning to give back to the community in other ways.
“We’re creating a system where a portion will go to a shelter or a local outreach,” said Nino.
Papa Nino’s is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays, and from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, call 483-7371 or log on to www.papaninospizza.com.