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Youssef Nafaa was born and raised in Morocco. In 1988, Mr. Nafaa arrived in the United States and got his first job as a bus boy at Angelo’s in Chicago, a popular Greek restaurant. Throughout his time in Chicago he worked in various fine dining restaurants, where he was able to hone his culinary skills, develop his palate and learn the restaurant business inside and out. He later attended what is now the Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute where he gained a popular reputation as a chef. In 1996, Chef Nafaa was hired on as a consultant for a large restaurant chain where his duties brought him to Houston where he fell in love with the city and its people.
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In 1998, Bella Restaurant Groups was born. Under this corporation Chef Nafaa open one of the first Tapas restaurants in Houston, Mi Luna in the Rice Village, now under new ownership. A year later Chef Nafaa created a concept centered around, “Italian food with a Twist” with his multiple locations of Mia Bella Trattoria. The first Mia Bella Trattoria is still in operation today on the corners of Main St. and Preston. A few years later he opened a second location, followed by third at Vintage Park. In 2009, Pavilions Mia Bella along with his newest concept, Andalucia Tapas Restaurant, located in The Houston Pavilions, opened to rave reviews. Now in 2012, the newest location to the Mia Bella Trattoria family just opened in Sugarland at First Colony Mall.
Throughout the growth of the Mia Bella Trattoria brand, Chef Nafaa has also had success with his creperies known better as Coco’s Crepes & Coffee. In 2006, he opened his first location in Midtown and followed it up with the Vintage Park location in 2010.
Chef Nafaa’s newest venture is Papa Mio Cucina Italian Café which opened in 2012, and has become a Montrose area neighborhood favorite. Papa Mio Cucina brings a little piece of old-world Italy to Houston. Here guest are able to sit and enjoy old-world Italian dining, family style, while enjoying one of Papa Mio’s many wine varietals or even one of their own favorites that they choose to bring from home.