The Mandina family traces their roots back to the early 1700’s. Their ancestors were from Salaparuta, Sicily. Salaparuta, which is one hour southwest of Palermo looks different from when Tony’s father left in 1924. Today, the buildings in Salaparuta are very contemporary compared to other towns. The reason for the difference is due to an earthquake that decimated the town in 1968, after which the residents decided to rebuild about a mile away instead of on the town’s original site. The destructed town is referred to as “Old Salaparuta” (before the earthquake) and Salaparuta is referred to as “New Salaparuta” (after the earthquake). The Mandina Family still has relatives that live in “New Salaparuta". They are proud to offer their customers a taste of that region with their regular menu items and a few specialty items that they import from Salaparuta including Villa Mandina Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Villa Scaminaci Wines made with the olives and grapes from the Mandina olives groves and vineyards. (The photograph to the right is the Old Monastery in "Old Salaparuta" destroyed by Earthquake of 1968.)
Tony Mandina and his wife Grace Mandina with their three daughters: Kim, Kolette, and Keri. Photo taken in 1985.
While working full-time as an executive in the furniture business, Tony enjoyed renovating older homes to use as rental property. In the early ‘80s, one such opportunity found its way to the Mandina Family that would bring more change than they realized at the time. The building that houses the restaurant was originally a home for the Boudreaux family of Gretna, then the old "BBQ Shack". "I was originally renovating the house to use as a rental, until one day I had the idea for the restaurant,” says Tony. “He came home with the idea and everything started coming together,” remembers Grace. When the restaurant opened on November 15, 1982, it originally had fourteen tables, seating forty-eight people. Today, including banquet rooms for special events, the restaurant can seat up to 180 people. (Photo to the right of Tony Mandina in 1983.)
While continuing to work in the furniture business, Tony would also work in the restaurant by making bread from scratch in the early mornings, which is still made from scratch today, and he would assist during lunch. Grace used her talents in the kitchen, along with family members, to cook their Italian dishes, most of which are still made from scratch today, including soups, lasagna, pasta dishes, and Tony’s own Sicilian Pasta Sauce known as Tony Mandina’s “Red Gravy”. The “Red Gravy” can currently be purchased at all neighborhood grocery stores, Amazon Prime, and of course, the restaurant. “We are all about la familia, and our family is very proud of our heritage and the restaurant is an extension of that,” says Tony and Grace, and they continue to practice that belief today. However, the greatest blessing the Mandina Family is thankful for is their loyal staff and customers.
Kim, Kolette and Keri began working for their parents’ restaurant at the ages of fifteen, thirteen and nine, respectfully, busing tables. As the restaurant grew, so did their responsibilities. For the past 20 years, Kim, Kolette, and Keri, with the guidance of their parents, who are always found at table 41 greeting friends and family with their Italian family charm, run the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Today, joining their ranks as the restaurant’s General Manager, is Tony and Grace's granddaughter, Lindsey Marcel. With the second and third generation of the Mandina Family have come new and exciting things for customers. Our piano player, Barry Bouvier, is regularly performs in our wine bar. (The photograph to the right is of the Mandina Family today.)
For thirty-seven years, the Mandina Family has fed their community with delicious meals made with pride from their ancestry. The Mandina Family welcomes you to their family restaurant and invite you become part of their family and dine with them, relax, and fuggedaboutit!