With the return of outdoor dining and COVID-19 vaccines underway, restaurants around town are gearing back up for some semblance of normalcy. Among them, Nado Republic looks forward to welcoming the community back to their outdoor living room for an inviting meal and family atmosphere. The Italy-inspired restaurant at 1007 C Avenue recently welcomed a new head chef that has made waves in Italy and San Francisco before making his way to San Diego, adding another enticing reason to stop by for a meal and to get to know the Nado Republic family.
Owner Sandro Lattenero grew up in Northern Italy and after spending some years on the bike racing scene in Europe with his best friend, David Arato, and then traveling to Thailand for a time, Lattenero and Arato reunited in San Diego where Arato had opened Nado Gelato here in Coronado. They decided they wanted to bring some of the Italian dining experience to Coronado where the small town community seemed like a natural place to foster that familiar and intimate setting to share a meal.
“We want to create a very custom experience for the customer,” Lattenero said. “Our servers, they try to learn names, they try to remember what the customer likes and everything … to recreate what it’s like in Italy.”
For Lattenero and his team, dining is not just a necessity but an experience that honors the food and the relationship. Lattenero continued, “If you notice, in Italy, you’re not going to a restaurant so much as you’re going to Salvatore’s, you’re going to Roberto’s. In Italy we don’t remember the name of the restaurant. We expect to go there and to find the owner, and we say we go to see Giorgio. We don’t go to Nado Republic, we go to see Giorgio.”
“Giorgio” is Chef Giorgio Corletti, who Lattenero recently brought onboard as a co-owner and speaking with both of them, it’s immediately evident how much passion they have for the full experience they can offer to their guests. Coletti was born in New York but grew up in Italy. He has cooked under distinguished chefs in Rome and San Francisco, and even at a young age has already opened five restaurants in San Francisco. “We are very proud that Giorgio chose Nado [Republic] as his form of expression because he is a very modest guy and he’s been working from a young age in the restaurant business; he’s only 29 but he already had 15 years in the restaurant business and working with five-star Michelin chefs,” Lattenero mentioned of Corletti’s culinary prowess. “One of them, he put [Corletti’s] pizza on the menu which has never happened before.”
Corletti laughed, “I love pizza.”
Lattenero has been working on slowly adapting the kitchen to suit Giorgio’s talents and expertise, “to allow Giorgio to express his art with the pizza,” Lattenero added. In the next month, he predicts Coronado will be home to some of the best pizza found anywhere in the state.
It’s easy to see how much importance they place on the details of what they are providing to customers in an effort to create an all-encompassing experience, from the moment one enters the restaurant to the all-important first impression and bite of each stage of their meal. Their dedication to the authenticity of the cuisine they bring to their menu is equally as strong. “The passion that Giorgio has for his job is exceptional,” Lattenero said as he talked of the way Corletti will keep an eye out for diner’s first reactions to their dishes, find time to talk to them and make sure no plate isn’t beyond satisfactory.
“Yeah, the first bite,” Corletti said. “There’s two things – when you first see the plate and when you take the first bite. So that first bite, you’re going to see if someone is really enjoying the plate.”
Corletti tries to be everywhere to get that feedback as much as he can while running the kitchen, and while he’s appreciative of Coronado’s politeness, he doesn’t want to miss out on feedback that can help him continue to grow and learn as a chef. “I don’t want people to be shy with us,” he told me. “We want them to feel like they’re at home in a living room and if you don’t like the plate, you give it back and I’m going to make another one with love and with passion because maybe I made something wrong or maybe you just didn’t like those flavors.”
When it comes to Nado Republic’s menu, Lattenero and Corletti are eager to share a wide range of authentic Italian dishes and flavors with Coronado. “It would be easy to always do the same food, like having a great lasagna, but that makes the place look boring after a while. What Giorgio is doing quite often twisting the flavors,” Lattenero said. “Your memories on the dish you like and had already, we let the customer try other things that makes the experience more fun and they’re always happy to find a new favorite.”
Both Lattenero and Corletti’s experience in Italy has also taught them just how much variation can exist within a culture’s foods. Corletti was pitching a rice dish recently that as he was describing it, Lattenero had to stop him and ask what it was because he’d never encountered it as a native of northern Italy. “I’m very happy because I learned something, and I was eating something new, and really that’s very Italian because in Italy, every little city you go there is a different food – and we’re not talking like 50 miles,” explained Lattenero. (“Oh, less,” Corletti confirmed immediately.) “Every four or five miles, there is its own specialty, and it’s unbelievable. The culture of food we have is unbelievable,” Lattenero finished.
Corletti agreed and added, “Every day, every season in Italy you can learn some new knowledge and new dishes.”
Many times, Lattenero says Italian dishes can come down to simple ingredients but it’s all about the expertise in preparing them. “With Pecorino, I can do just about anything,” Corletti said. “Brussel sprouts with Pecorino and lemon, or pastas where cheese is the first ingredient.”
“Pecorino is a sheep’s cheese, with a very high salinity,” added Lattenero, “so what he does is use the cheese to avoid having too much salt and it’s very simple. It gives the food the flavor you want without adding too much salt. The thing with the brussel sprouts [Corletti] talked about,” Lattenero mentioned, “the combination is just perfect.” While the ingredients seem fairly basic, Lattenero says it comes down to knowing how to take these simple ingredients and put them together in a particular way that makes them special and praised Corletti’s seemingly effortless ability to do just that.
“Cacio e Pepe,” he said for example, “the basis is cheese and black pepper but you really have to know when you add the cheese, when the temperature is right to do the next step. And this is not an easy thing to do, the authenticity of making something tasty – seeing the right temperatures, adding things at the right time, and reacting and doing the right thing at the right moment. So it’s simple, but not simple.”
Having worked on and helped open much larger restaurants in San Francisco, Corletti expressed his satisfaction at being able to practice his passion in a much more intimate setting with Nado Republic that lets him bring more of a personal touch to the food. “This is everything for me because it’s not a super big restaurant.”
“I’m very happy he’s here,” Lattenero picked up from there. “All the big chefs, they work for big companies and then they’re searching for a spot where they can express themselves… A guy that can cook like Giorgio, that can have numerous opportunities…I’m very proud that he chose Coronado and chose Nado Republic for that and I think the community is going to enjoy that a lot.”
Corletti is happy to be at Nado Republic. “I just have to stop and say, ‘you guys, this city is magical’. It’s Coronado.”
While the pandemic has of course affected Nado Republic, Lattenero is grateful for being where he is throughout it all, and happy to be able to provide something for the community as well. He’s aware that everyone is going through their own struggles so if he can give individuals and families good food and a memorable experience while being conscientious of prices, he knows he’s done his job. Nado Republic is now open with their patio seating every day to diners from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is offering new lunch specials on top of an ever evolving dinner menu with new head chef and co-owner Corletti.
For more information you can visit their website at https://www.nadorep.com/.