Ciao Bella, once one of Riverside’s premier restaurants, is slowly morphing into Magnone Trattoria and Marketplace as a team scrambles to complete the work for a November opening.
Multi-colored Italian lime washes and Venetian plasters will warm up the austere, all-white interior for a more rustic, Old World feel. In the bar area, a 100-square-foot storage closet is turning into a glass-enclosed wine room for sales and private tastings.
“It’s starting to look a little different,” Deanna Magnon, 51, remarked during a tour Tuesday, Oct. 2, of the transformation-in-progress of the 5,136-square-foot eatery. “Doug is all about bringing this back.”
Her brother, Doug Magnon, 52, couldn’t bear to let the award-winning building — shaped like an artist’s palette — remain abandoned after the restaurant at 1630 Spruce St. closed a year ago. It opened in January 1988 — designed, built, owned and operated by the Magnon family, but the property since has changed proprietors, names, decors and menus several times.
Despite valiant efforts, its most recent owners, Bob and Julie De Korne, who opened Ciao Bella in 2005, couldn’t save it from a soured economy.
The Magnon Cos., one of the largest commercial developers in the Inland area, has stepped up to rescue, remodel, rechristen and reopen its original creation with the help of Melissa Hanvey, a Cherry Valley-based design consultant with ambitious plans.
The nuts and bolts of the menu and type of service — centralized or table — are still in flux while the décor takes shape. The goal is for a more casual feel while honoring the cutting-edge design elements without being intimidating.
“You don’t notice all the architectural edges and angles because they’re all painted the same color,” Hanvey said. “We want to be true to the original building but still fashion-forward.”
The two wood-burning fireplaces will stay. So will the granite bar, but with glass blocks lining the bottom along the floor. At the southeast corner to the right of the bar entrance, a suspended cut-glass ceiling and fiber-optic lights will showcase the wine room’s boutique vintages.
The lounge will sport lower upholstered furnishings and on each wall, three large-screen TVs will be clustered “like pieces of geometric art,” Hanvey said.
By the open kitchen, the new marketplace will sell locally grown organic produce, imported meats, cheeses and Italian goods and artworks.
Roll-out windows and sliding-glass doors will enclose part of the patio looking out on tomato and herb gardens. Living herb walls, the colors of the Italian flag, will confer privacy by separating the al fresco tables.
Antique chandeliers, faux brick walls around murals, and farm tables made of old barn wood will help convert the downstairs wine cellar into a 512-square-foot room for private parties.
“We want people to know that Riverside has some wonderful dining places,” Hanvey said. “There’s no need to travel far for an intimate evening.”
To read the original article as published in the PE, click here.