Monday, June 17, 2024

Buona Gente permanently closes after serving Belmont Shore for over three decades

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Having opened in 1988, old-school Italian-American restaurant Buona Gente has permanently shuttered its windows and closed its doors.

It is unclear as to why the owners decided to close up shop but it follows a string of classic Italian joints closing up shop. 

White paper and a simple note greet patrons expecting Buona Gente in Belmont Shore to be open. Photo by Joshua Michael Orr.

La Strada and Papalucci’s (the latter to be replaced by world-renowned pizzeria L’Antica), both also on the Shore and having also served for decades; Francelli’s on 4th Street (which was replaced by The Breakfast Bar earlier this year); Cafe Piccolo, which served Broadway for over three decades and will make way for a Jamaican joint; Russo’s in Naples closed after serving three decades; The Pizza Place, a staple for nearly 40 years, closed in the Gayborhood…

The likely reason? A major shift in Italian and Italian-American food that has come into Long Beach. 

The Procaccinis, directly from Roma herself with the family bouncing between Italy and California, introduced Long Beach residents to the wonders of the Roma cafe proper with La Parolaccia. 

Lorenzo Motolla, owner of Vino e Cucina, has the prime goal of capturing Italian hospitality over on the Eastside, hosting incredibly curated wine dinners while offering some of the most distinctly straight-forward Italian classics the city offers.

Chef Giuseppe Musso of Michael’s Downtown echoes these Roman and Florentine influences in his constantly changing menu in DTLB, where pastas are always made by hand and each plate to order. 

Then we have the people pushing the boundaries of Italian food in Long Beach—with Chef Eric Samaniego of the stellar Michael’s on Naples immediately comes to mind as does Chef Jason Witzl, with his putting-his-mark-in-the-ground bistro that is Ellie’s in Alamitos Beach. 

Times change—and the heavy mozzarella-and-sauced dishes sitting atop red-and-white checkered table covers, empty bottles of Chianti hanging from the ceiling, and dried pastas slathered in hefty cream sauces are a part of the Italian-American cuisine diaspora that is slowly becoming a relic of the past.

This article previous stated an incorrect owner; it has since been corrected.

Buona Gente was located at 5205 E. 2nd St.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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