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How cousins Nadia and Jordan Victoria looked to the past for the future of Sorellina's

"This is our chance for our family to kind of grow with Victoria's restaurant—expand our footprint a little bit," said Natalie Victoria.

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Jordan and Nadia Victoria, owners of Sorellina's.
Dean Riggott Photography
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As kids, cousins Nadia and Jordan Victoria grew up in the Rochester restaurant business.

Jordan's parents (Natalie and Sid) and Nadia's parents (Maria and Sam) opened Victoria's Ristorante & Wine Bar—still a shining staple in the Rochester restaurant scene—in 1997.

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Victoria's Ristorante was, says Nadia, like her playground as a kid. When she was old enough, she learned to roll silverware. Then learned how to host. Then how to serve tables.

By the time she was 18, Nadia was bartending—making Victoria's signature sangrias and pouring from their extensive wine list. Soon, she was managing the bar side of things, learning the restaurant ropes when it came to ordering liquor, and then ordering food.

"We learned so much from that restaurant, and so much from watching our parents work so hard to do things the right way," says Nadia. "We knew the right way to do the restaurant business."

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And they also knew that, someday, they wanted to start their own restaurant.

"It was always something that we talked about," Nadia says.

They both went away to college—Jordan to St. Mary's University of Minnesota and Nadia to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Eventually, both Jordan and Nadia made their way back to Rochester.

Back in November of 2021, Sorellina Enterprises LLC—spearheaded by the Victoria family—bought the former bank building on 16th Street SW, on the edges of the Apache Mall property.

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"This is our chance for our family to kind of grow with Victoria's restaurant—expand our footprint a little bit," said Natalie Victoria.

And it was the chance for Nadia and Jordan to focus on starting their own restaurant, Sorellina's (1155 16th St. SW, Rochester), Italian for "little sister."

"Twenty five years ago, my husband and I convinced my father, a middle school science teacher, to leave his career, deplete his bank accounts, and follow our dream to open a restaurant with my husband's sister and brother in law," said Natalie when the sale closed. "Twenty five years later, and history repeats itself. Downtown Rochester won't be the only place to get your pasta fix. Look out SW Rochester. Because the only thing better than the first generation ... is the second."

So Nadia and Jordan got to work to, as they say, "share their vision of Italian cuisine with Rochester, Minnesota."

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Nadia decided to focus on the front-of-house duties, including ordering supplies and overseeing finances. Jordan gravitated to the back of house, including creating dishes and cooking alongside the other chefs.

“I will be helping to make all the new entrees that we brought on ourselves," Jordan says.

They designed an airy, modern interior. Workshopped the four-season patio dining space. Bought a pizza oven that has become a "focal point" of the restaurant.

Hired and trained staff. Met with suppliers. Picked out decor.

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Inside Sorellina's in Rochester.
Dean Riggott Photography

They tested the recipes for their Mango Blackened Salmon, their Berry Fired Pizza, and, yes, their Mechi's Chicken (a Victoria's favorite).

Created a Warm Brussel Sprout Ricotta Salad. Tested and tweaked their Rhubarb Margarita. Partnered with local breweries for tap beers.

Then, on Tuesday, June 14, they opened the doors for Sorellina's.

“While growing up we always enjoyed working in the business where we had been working since we were kids,” Jordan told the Post Bulletin on that opening day. “We both went to school and through college realized how much we enjoyed working in the industry and how much we wanted to get back, work with our parents and open up a restaurant of our own.”

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And the future-forward Sorellina's, they say, owes a lot to those days (and nights) spent in Victoria's.

And the story sounds a bit like that of Natalie and Sid Victoria and Maria and Sam Victoria.

In the Spring of 1997, Natalie's dad was on a last minute golf trip with a friend who recently transferred to IBM Rochester. Her dad struck up a conversation with a fellow golfer, who was a property owner in downtown Rochester. He had a spot for a vacant restaurant. After some negotiating, a lease was signed in June 1997, and Victoria’s Italian Restaurant was born soon after.

"It was a crazy ride," says Natalie. "But we learned along the way."

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Jordan Victoria at Sorellina's in Rochester.
Dean Riggott Photography

And, she says, Nadia and Jordan will do—and have done—the same.

For their part, Nadia and Jordan will focus, they say, on bringing a "modern dining experience to Sorellina’s while keeping with the tradition of the Victoria family."

“We both want to stay true to our roots,” says Nadia. “We learned a lot from our parents and kept the authenticity and freshness of Victoria's. We learned to never take shortcuts. Sorellina’s will mainly keep Victoria's service theme.”

So far, the restaurant's first few weeks have been "everything we were hoping, everything we were anticipating," says Nadia, who has a two-year-old son with her husband, Mike.

"It is the first time Jordan and I are in charge, and that can be a lot," she says. "Sometimes, it get be tough when you're the one making the final decisions. But we both had good mentors."

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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