Originally from the Italian coastal town of Sestri Levante, the Olivieri family came to California in the 1950’s and opened their first “stand” next to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Aldo fished while his wife Inez ran their business selling pizza, candied apples and other fresh fare. Their young sons Mauro and Walter helped out, with Mauro just old enough to park cars on the Beach Street Hill.
The operation grew, a pancake house on Portola Avenue followed. Aldo still fished, but found time to make fresh pasta and gnocchi each weekend — with recipes used by the family to this day. The family recognized the opportunity at the Santa Cruz Harbor and negotiated the Harbor’s first lease in 1962, opening a bait and tackle shop. The following year the family opened the Aldo’s Harbor House Restaurant where the Crow’s Nest stands today. Moving to what is now the West Harbor, the operation became a restaurant in 1977.
Mauro, in the meantime, grew up, married Nori, and worked in San Francisco until moving back to Santa Cruz in 1980. Walter ran Aldo’s from its inception until he retired in 2003. The locals still call the adjacent beach Buffalo Beach, named after Walter’s German Shepherd dog.
Today, Mauro and Nori’s son John along with general manager Alfredo Servin have taken over active operation of Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant, with Mauro in the position of family patriarch once occupied by his dad. Recently renovated, the restaurant retains its original look and feel, but now patrons enjoy Aldo’s all year long. Known for its Eggs Benedict, calamari, fresh salmon, and exquisite ocean view, the restaurant accommodates its loyal patrons seven days a week.