Via Piccola Trattoria
October Business-of-the-Month, Via Piccola Trattoria
The latest business to open during the COVID-19 pandemic is Via Piccola Trattoria, a northern Italian restaurant now serving customers at The Cove Shopping Center in Tiburon – at 1 Blackfield Drive.
Owners, Maria and Pedro Ulloa, bought the former Milano’s Italian restaurant last March and refurbished its interior during the six months they waited for their liquor license to come through.
They painted the entire space, replaced the carpet with hardwood floors, took out the second bar in the adjacent banquet room, installed new kitchen appliances and bought all new tables. To the delight of many longtime regulars, they kept the Venetian mural that can be seen high on the wall above the bar in the main room.
When Via Piccola Trattoria opened on August 28, 11 of the new tables sat outside with seating for 32 customers. Ever since they opened, the restaurant has been busy.
“The first day, we were overwhelmed because we didn’t expect so many people to show up,” Maria says, “but we are so glad, in the middle of a pandemic, to have the tables filled every day.”
The chef is Jose Beltran, who comes from Café Arrivederci in San Rafael. Although the new owners wanted to keep all the waiters from the former restaurant, only Valentin Cambron is still here – everyone else found jobs elsewhere during the six-month waiting period.
With business going well, the Ulloas are looking for more help – more waiters, a hostess and a bartender.
Both Pedro and Maria come from Canadas, a small town in Mexico. The two met as teenagers and at age 18, Pedro came to Marin County to work at a Mill Valley restaurant where he rose from dishwasher to assistant chef to chef. He found he loved this job.
Two years later, he returned to Canadas just long enough to propose to Maria and the two were married. A month later they were in Marin where Pedro became manager, part-time chef and junior partner at Café Arrivederci, a position he held for the next 30-plus years.
Over those years, the couple had three children: Javier, an artist who designed the new restaurant’s logo; Daisy, who now works for the Marin County Sheriff’s Department; and Saul, who is a student at Santa Rosa Junior College.
For 13 years, starting in 2004, Maria got her license and ran her own day care business for children from one month to six-years-old. This allowed her to stay at her Petaluma home, make some money and do what she loves to do - be with small children.
When Pedro announced he wanted to have his own restaurant, Maria was behind him 100-percent. It took him five years to find what he was after, but when he discovered Milano’s was for sale, he told Maria that he thought this was the perfect spot for them.
Negotiations began last November and the deal was sealed in March – just as the pandemic took off. In spite of the delay and struggles, the Ulloas are still upbeat. Many of their customers are locals who walk from their Tiburon homes and regulars who knew Pedro from the San Rafael restaurant.
The current menu has a couple of items leftover from Milano’s, but there are plenty of new dishes to try. There’s a full bar and a takeout menu. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner everyday.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m.
Because of the limited space outside, reservations are advised. Call 415-388-9100. For more information, go to www.viapiccola.com.