Featuring the newest addition to downtown Paso: ON Bar
:: Guest List ::
Meagan Friberg, PASO Magazine Writer
Karli Twisselman, PASO Magazine Ad Rep
Nic Mattson, PASO Magazine Publisher
Hayley Mattson, PASO Magazine Co-owner
: Special Guests :
Steve & Angela Nino, ON Owners
Melissa Mattson, ON Co-owner
This month, our dining experience takes us to the newest restaurant in downtown Paso – ON Bar – with Owners Steve and Angela Nino and Melissa Mattson, and Executive Chef Ryan Trimble.
Enamored by their motto: Come in as guests…leave as family, we booked a table during their soft opening in early March. Greeted and seated immediately by Melissa, we shared a high-back booth for dinner at ON and talked about its prime location across from the downtown Paso Robles city park.
Taking in our surroundings – the fabulous décor, the high-back booths, the whimsical Cow Parade cow at the entry, the elegant dining room and the hip bar area – our senses were on high alert. From the ambient lighting, to the cattle brands and photos on the walls, to fellow diners stopping by to say hello, to the tantalizing aromas escaping from the kitchen – we were drawn into this fun, new, local space.
I asked Steve, “Where did you come up with the name for ON Bar?”
“ON is our family’s brand, for my grandfather Oliver Nino,” he said. “The brand has been registered since 1940. I have a lot of brands on our walls from around the area and I plan to add more. Like ’72,’ that’s for our ranch in King City. I think of ON as having a sort of rustic ranch theme.”
“So, Melissa,” I asked, “what do you want people to know about ON?”
“We have something for everyone – meat lovers, vegetarians, you name it,” Melissa said, “and we serve really great food. The atmosphere is nice, too – you can enjoy an intimate dinner, gather your friends for a big party, or sit in the bar and have a cocktail. The front patio is a really fun space; it can be fancy or casual.”
Great food, amazing atmosphere, fun times – let’s get started!
Our server, Rich, delivered the perfect balance of fun and professionalism. Along with the bussers, he made us feel welcome, ensured our water glasses were never empty, and delivered our food in a timely manner – all with great efficiency and a smile on his face.
We got things started with the Ahi Wontons, Crab Tower, and Fried Brussel Sprouts. With more than 10 selections currently on the small bites menu, we eventually want to try each one!
Meagan’s favorite: Crab Tower – a visually and palate-pleasing display of fresh snow crab, mango, avocado, bell peppers, red onions, and cilantro drizzled with chive oil; served with a choice of tortilla or pita chips. “The presentation is stunning; visually, it’s a real eye catcher. It’s light yet satisfying, and I am sold on this tasty combination of flavors. The crab, mango, avocado – my gosh, where has this been all my life? I could see this as being something to share with a friend over cocktails.”
Do the owners/staff have a favorite? Steve thinks the Fried Brussel Sprouts are divine, while Rich could eat the Sticky Chicken Wings daily!
Many locals know about Nino’s in Templeton, a successful restaurant and sports bar also owned by the Ninos. That led Nic to ask Angela, “Are there similarities between Nino’s and ON Bar?”
“In a way, ON Bar is a more grown up version of Nino’s,” she said. “For us, it’s really meaningful because this location is actually where Steve and I first met when it was still Villa Creek. So, you could say we’ve come full circle.”
Married since 2013, Steve and Angela have a blended family with five children, ages 22, 20,19,16 and two.
With dozens of tantalizing options on the menu, it was difficult to choose! Lucky for us, Melissa ordered up a variety of tasty dishes that fit each appetite at the table – the Scallop BLTA Salad, Pecan and Coconut Crusted Halibut, and an 8 oz. Prime Top Sirloin. The servings were hearty, with plenty for all of us to share – and we even requested a few take-out containers!
Nic’s favorite: Pecan and Coconut Crusted Halibut – fresh halibut served over couscous primavera with a pineapple curry sauce. “The halibut was light yet flavorful, the pecan and coconut crust is a nice touch, but what really made the dish was the bed of couscous and pineapple curry. I loved the pineapple curry – I am a big curry fan – and it gave the dish a sweet flavor as well as some spice. The asparagus was fresh and crisp, and the bread was perfectly seasoned.”
Karli’s favorite: 8 oz. Prime Top Sirloin – a thick, juicy slice of beef topped with a mushroom cream sauce. Served with crisp steamed mixed veggies – carrots, broccoli, and green and yellow squash – and creamy mashed potatoes topped with chives. “This is absolutely delicious! I tasted the prime quality of the meat with the first bite – it’s tender, cooked to perfection, and I love the sauce. The vegetables are noticeably fresh and the potatoes are amazing. My entire family would love this dish!”
Do the owners and staff have a favorite? – Randy, ON’s general manager and Eric, the bar manager both crave the Grilled Caesar Salad, Scallop Sacchetti, and Thick Cut Pork Chop. Angela has two favorites – the Smoked Cornish Game Hen and Scallop BLTA Salad.
Although Steve is known for his generous nature, he had few words about his community involvement.
“I really don’t like to talk about myself,” Steve said. “These are just things I do; I like to be involved and keep busy. When things settle down – having five kids is busy enough – I would like to be involved more with CASA as an advocate.”
Of course, we saved room for dessert! As we lingered in our comfy booth, we shared servings of Leo Leo Mixed Berry Gelato, and house made treats of silky Tiramisu and Cheesecake topped with fresh berries.
Hayley’s favorite: “The Tiramisu stole the show! It’s delicious – sweet, moist, creamy. and has a nice kick at the end without being overwhelming. Definitely worth leaving room for after that amazing meal!”
MORE ABOUT ON BAR
ON Bar is perfect for business lunches, appetizers and cocktails after work, and intimate dinners. The extensive wine menu boasts 80+ offerings of Paso, SLO County and California labels as well as national and international wines.
Steve said Executive Chef Ryan Trimble has been “a great fit” for ON Bar. “He is a country boy, has a lot of training, and knows his way around the kitchen,” Steve said. “Many dishes on the menu are foods I like to eat and are inspired from some of my favorite places, and Ryan has been great about this. One of his Chef specialties is the Grilled Chicken Rigatoni and it is remarkable!”
Stop by and see Steve, Angela, Melissa, and the team at ON Bar & Grill
and tell them you saw their story in PASO Magazine!
1144 Pine Street, Paso Robles
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Open Tuesday through Sunday – see website for hours