Nino's is shuttering after decades of serving the Mandola's Italian food in Houston.
A vintage photo circa 1977 of the original facade of Nino's on West Dallas. (Courtesy of the Mandola Family)
A vintage photo of the Mandola Family headed by Vincent and Mary Mandola, childhood sweethearts married for 57 years. (Courtesy of the Mandola Family)
A vintage look at the exterior of Nino's shows how these Mandola restaurants have been in Houston.
All in the family, Vincent and Mary Mandola are pictured with their two daughters, Vinceanne Mandola and Dana Mandola Corbett. (Courtesy of the Mandola Family)
The end of a Houston restaurant era is nearly here. After dinner service this Friday, August 5th, The Vincent Mandola Family Restaurants group will shutter all its restaurant doors after serving the last Italian meals at Nino’s, Vincent’s and Grappino di Nino. For 45 years, the late charismatic owner Vincent Mandola, known as “Bubba” to his friends and family, was a force in Italian dining in this city and was known as much for his hospitable service as for his Southern Italian-inspired food.
The land this trio of restaurants sits on at 2817 West Dallas Street has been purchased by an affiliate of Oxberry Group and TKG Capital Partners. We’re told the co-developers have ambitious plans to revitalize the buildings on the Montrose site. Including those on the entire block extending all the way back to West Clay, which also means the former home of The Hay Center and The Printing Museum. They aim to create a new Houston restaurant land dubbed Harlow District, with plans to unveil it later this year.
For those unfamiliar with the Mandola family tree, its limbs reach far and wide across the Houston restaurant scene.
Vincent “Bubba” Mandola, who passed in 2020, married his childhood sweetheart Mary Mandola and together, the duo first opened Nino’s in 1977. Soon after, they debuted Vincent’s and Grappino di Nino nearby. Vincent’s brother Tony Mandola started Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen, while his other sibling Damian Mandola ran both his namesake Damian’s Cucina Italiana, D’Amico and the former seafood restaurant called Pesce. Damian Mandola also co-founded, with nephew Johnny Carrabba, the chain of restaurants that bear Carrabba’s last name. Carrabba also owns Grace’s and Mia’s Table. His late cousin was Frankie B. Mandola, who co-founded the bustling Cajun hotspot Ragin Cajun.
“We would like to thank our amazing family, friends, guests, and staff for the past 45 years,” Mary Mandola, wife of Vincent, and couple’s daughters Vinceanne Mandola and Dana Mandola Corbett note in a statement. “We are so proud of what we have accomplished over the years.
“We are excited to see the new venues created within the establishments that hold so many of our cherished memories.”