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Meet PIetro and Julie Biondi of Nocciola

Today we’d like to introduce you to PIetro and Julie Biondi.

After getting married in 2013, an opportunity arose to take over a restaurant space in Ojai that had been empty for over eight years (previously l’Auberge–a successful Belgian restaurant in the ’80s). Pietro had been manager and sommelier at Piccolo (Italian fine dining in Venice, CA) for over ten years. Julie also had experience serving in restaurants in NYC and Portland for several years. Pietro had a dream of one day opening his own restaurant, so when the opportunity arose, we both decided to take a leap of faith and move up north (January 2014).

The space had been empty and untouched for so long, it needed a lot of work. Living upstairs (the restaurant is downstairs in an old, Craftsman-style home), we gutted the place and started renovations. We spent a year fixing the “bones” (plumbing, electric, etc.) as well as scouring Ventura thrift stores and antique shops for a remodeled look that would complement the building. Finally, by the fall of 2014, Nocciola opened to the public.

Since then, we have personally continued updating and remodeling, including kitchen and dining room/bar area to what it has become today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think it’s ever a smooth road to open any business–restaurants are probably the most challenging.

*Licensing requirements in a small town–very tricky in Ojai.
*Being accepted by the community–very warm people but definitely reluctant to accept new businesses (especially having ties to the “big city.”)
*RENOVATIONS!!!!! If you’ve renovated anything, you know. Now multiply it by a thousand.
*Being a “mom and pop” with no investors or financial backers.
*Public critique and reviews are never fun when you’ve put so much into something.
*Bringing a cultural cuisine to a small town and sticking to your guns about what you serve.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Nocciola story. Tell us more about the business.
We are an Italian fine-dining restaurant that serves traditional Italian dishes using seasonal ingredients. Everything is made in-house including the pastas, desserts, and bread.

All meats are either wild or organic and produce is sourced locally, when available. We are probably most known for our 5-course Chef’s Tasting Menu.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We have been very lucky to have been given this opportunity to start this project up in Ojai. It was definitely one of those situations that couldn’t be passed up.

We’ve also been very lucky that Nocciola has withstood all the trials and tribulations of new business by new business owners (on previous page) and that we are still going strong into our fourth year.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 314 El Paseo Rd Ojai, CA 93023
  • Website: www.nocciolaojai.com
  • Phone: 805-640-1648
  • Email: dine@nocciolaojai.com
  • Instagram: nocciolaojai

Image Credit:
Fawn Grant

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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