A new restaurant from chef and food truck veteran Luciana Basile-Lewis and her husband, Jesse Lewis, offers a unique take on Italian food, with influences from California, Mexico and beyond. Che Buono Trattoria Pizzeria, which opened its doors on Folsom Blvd. near Bradshaw Rd. in 2020, reflects Basile-Lewis’s lifelong passion for putting a new twist on the familiar.
“Since I was little, I always was fascinated by creating things,” she says. “I used to rip out pages of magazines with food in it, anything that had different ideas of dishes. I wasn’t interested in just traditional food; I always wanted to try new things.”
Che Buono’s menu is full of this creative zeal. Take one of the most popular items, the tri-tip tacos, in which Italy meets Mexico by way of California. Slow-cooked tri-tip is shredded and folded into a flour tortilla with arugula, chopped caprese salad, balsamic glaze and the restaurant’s signature spicy aioli. That same aioli gives a significant kick to another dish loved by regulars, the Vulcano. The appetizer is a veritable mountain of fried calamari tossed in the fiery sauce along with basil and sticks of crunchy cucumber.
If it’s nostalgic Italian fare you’re yearning for, Basile-Lewis, who was raised in Modena, Italy, delivers. Che Buono’s spaghetti alla carbonara and house-made tiramisu are reminiscent of the red-and-white checkered tablecloth joints that popularized Italian cuisine in America in the last century.
Every dish at Che Buono is served up with the genuine warmth and hospitality of a chef who loves what she’s doing. The couple, who entered the restaurant industry from the corporate world—they met while working at a power plant in Florida—insist they’re not in it for the money. “It’s a really difficult industry, but we do it for the satisfaction of seeing people enjoy something that is delicious and not so common,” says Basile-Lewis. “When customers genuinely appreciate us, that feels so good.”
9555 Folsom Blvd.;