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The backbone of The Ordinarie’s origin story is nearly impossible to dismiss when writing about it because the concept behind it is one of Long Beach’s strongest in terms of what it wants to be and what it harkens back toward: American hospitality, in all its complexities—and therefore, American cuisine, in all its complexities. This is what affable and lovable owner Christy Caldwell has long tried to achieve.

“American regional food is so beautiful for me because it is defined by immigrants and the Black community that have built the country,” said Chef Nick DiEugenio, brought on earlier this year to take over one of DTLB’s best spaces. “Each city you visit in the States, their food is entirely defined by its history and the immigrants who moved there. Every city you visit has its dominant immigrant population—and that affords American cuisine a lot of creativity that is often dismissed.”

Young, reserved, and extremely focused, DiEugenio grew up in one of the most jealous-inducing situations: His parents were the authors of cookbooks that focused on American cities—leaving him to inspiration about how one can approach a kitchen. (He is also happy to discuss his neo-Platonic philosophical leanings or his more recent dive into medieval Islamic philosophy.)

Photos by Brian Addison

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