Restaurant Veteran Named Managing Partner at Nello Cucina


It comes as no surprise that Nello Cucina, a popular dining spot at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, has chosen Italian-born restaurant veteran Franco Vessia as its new managing partner. He will be responsible for supervising Nello’s 37 employees, overseeing day-to-day operations and working with the culinary team on the menu including daily specials and maintaining Nello’s diverse wine list. Owner/founder Antonio Cagnolo cited Vessia’s impressive 40-year background and credentials as basis for his new position as managing partner of the trattoria that can be found on the ground level of Crystal Court.
“We are delighted to welcome aboard Franco Vessia, a true restaurant veteran, to serve as our new managing partner,” said Cagnolo, who also operates nearby Antonello Ristorante – Santa Ana Ristorante, Quattro and Antonello Ristorante – Santa Ana Espresso Bar. “I have no doubt that Nello Cucina will flourish to new heights under his supervision.”

Vessia can trace his roots in the business to 1968 when he enrolled at A. Perotti, a professional institute of hotels and restaurants in Bari, Italy. While studying there, he traveled throughout Italy and Germany and received hands-on training at various establishments. In 1972, Vessia moved to the United States where he landed his first job as a meat cutter.He later opened a family restaurant in a Chicago suburb and sold it 2 years later to accept a position in food & beverage for Hyatt Hotels.In 1983, he joined Spectrum Foods Inc. during which time he served as general manager of Harry’s Bar and Grill in Century City and Prego Ristorante in San Francisco.

He relocated to Irvine in 1986 to open the largest Prego in the company and three years later was promoted to director of operation for the Southern California region. In 1998, he opened his own restaurant, Vessia Ristorante, in Irvine, and, in 2007, he established Frankie’s Steak & Seafood in Temecula.

Nello Cucina is a classic trattoria offering a wide variety of traditional Italian fare. Pasta is made fresh on the premises daily using top-quality ingredients; fresh fish, chicken, veal and beef entrees are made with precision by a dedicated culinary team; authentic, thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas — considered some of the best in Orange County — come out of the restaurant’s wood-burning oven; and a dizzying array of desserts top off the varied menu.A full bar and extensive wine list of reasonably priced varietals are available. Open daily for lunch and dinner the 110-seat restaurant boasts al fresco dining and indoor, open seat dining. Nello Cucina is located at 3333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa. Call (714) 540-3365 or visit

Posted By Kristin 6/15/11

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