Nando Ghorchian never set out to be a restaurateur, but everything changed when he started learning how to cook professionally.
Originally working for the United Nations with a focus on medicine, Ghorchian took a job at a Manhattan restaurant. And it was there, as he began to immerse himself in the art of cooking, that everything changed.
“Every day I was learning to make one dish,” Ghorchian said. “So after three years, you become the master yourself.”
That mastery included everything from bread to pasta in food that became so popular, Ghorchian opened his own Italian restaurant, Caffe Buon Gusto, in 1988.
He later expanded Caffe Buon Gusto to Brooklyn, and now has a third — in Riverdale. Located at 4574-4576 Manhattan College Parkway, the newest Caffe Buon Gusto is right across the street from where Ghorchian hopes will be a primary source of new customers: Manhattan College.
The Riverdale opportunity came through an unlikely place: a former customer of Ghorchian’s at the Caffe Buon Gusto on the Upper East Side. She used the Manhattan College Parkway location as a gallery and restaurant, but was looking to sell. So when she offered it to Ghorchian, he accepted.
Renovations for the new Caffe Buon Gusto took more than a year. The Riverdale location is bigger than his Manhattan and Brooklyn restaurants, so Ghorchian was able to offering something unique — a coffee shop designed to attract students and locals. In the summer, Ghorchian also plans to open outdoor seating in the back of the restaurant to give it more of a beer garden feel.
Customers can stop by for lunch and dinner, choosing between 12 different pasta sauces. They also have the option to pick a regular, homemade, or whole wheat pasta to pair with their sauce choice.
And if they’re not just a sole pasta lover, Caffe Buon Gusto offers a variety of Italian chicken, eggplant, fish and veal dishes as well.
“If you’re a food lover, this is the place for” you, Ghorchian said.
When it comes to picking a favorite dish, Ghorchian said it’s never been a competition because he enjoys the food so much.
“There is no favorite,” he said. “I’ve been eating at my own restaurant since 1988. Every day. How could you get tired of the fresh food?”
Ghorchian hopes the new restaurant becomes a staple for people to indulge in local Italian food.
“I’d like (for) the customers to feel this is their own kitchen, and they can come and sit down and enjoy the food and come back,” he said. And “be happy. Food is very important, like everything else.”