ChefView – Fina by John Surla

Chef View
By Chris Murphy

Fina by John Surla is out of this world!

Our very first issue of ModestoView featured an up and coming Chef who was new to Modesto. We knew then that he would do great things. Chef John Surla has become one of Modesto’s leading culinary voices. His namesake Surla’s has become the standard of excellent cuisine and his Lola’s Bistro in Hilmar added a new range of flavors and now Fina in Ripon will be a game changer for regional dining. This is a true destination dining experience. I would be remiss in that this innovative circular design, does remind me of the Millennium Falcon. Coincidence. Maybe so. But the similarities end there and Fina is a new take on traditional fresh Italian cuisine.

For those of you that are Surla’s regulars, something you won’t find at Fina is soy sauce. Nada, Zip. Zilch. But what you will find is an amazing array of fresh pastas, wood oven baked pizzas and sauces with imperfect textures, grilled meats and fish all prepared in an amazing glassed-in exhibition kitchen. John and I have known each other a long time and early on learned that of his first gigs was at the premier Mondavi Restaurant in Disney’s California Adventure. Since then, John has dreamed about what his dream restaurant would be if he could start from scratch. “This is most definitely my dream space, and it turned out to be so beautiful and inspiring inside, that the food had to be over the top too”. He teamed up with the late Conrad Sanchez to design the innovative Fina. These original illustrations will be featured in the restaurant.

The menu will have many favorites, and when asked about what should not be missed on a first visit to Fina, he replied “the fresh pasta. It is really amazing”. The food is light, flavorful, grilled and fresh with a new twist on Italian sauces and preparation. The ingredients are fresh and local from Rodin, Ratto & Cipponeri Farms, Stanislaus Foods, Sciabica Oils, and Fiscalini and Nicolau cheese and others. Have no fear as there are gluten free and low carb options too.

Fina is a showcase of food preparation, with an exhibition kitchen, central bar and an ambience that takes you to a different place. Seating in the round offer so many different views and an open bar with big windows and a patio that is in shade every evening. It takes a lot to build a restaurant from scratch and bring it to life, and he has done it with local suppliers and builders, with beautiful lighting from Phillips in McHenry Village art from Robert Merritt and Louise Bogetti. There have been some challenges as he desired to have a one of a kind indoor wood burning pizza oven, so the hood, and all of the exhausts all had to be custom made and took some extra time, but that is what makes it special.

John’s use of flavors, presentation and his talent and history will make sure Fina is going to be a beautiful success whether you try the Polenta alla Meatballs, the Penne Bolognese or the Pizze “alla Fina”. There is truly something delicious for everyone.

Fina will be open beginning August 6th from Tuesday through Sundays.
Tues – Thurs – 5 pm – 9 pm Fri & Sat till 10 and Sun till 8.

200 W River Rd. Ripon
You can book your reservations on Yelp



Posted in: community, food & drink, news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.