ALAMEDA -- Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails will host a benefit for the Alameda Civic Ballet on Friday, three days before it officially opens at South Shore Center.

Co-owner Christine Naish Naccarelli, a longtime dancer and board member of the ballet, is pleased to stage the event along with fellow owner, husband and chef Giuseppe Naccarelli.

"I have enjoyed performing in the ballet's yearly production of the 'Nutcracker,' which is in its ninth year. I grew up and then studied to be a dancer," said Naish Naccarelli. "The 'Nutcracker' has been a part of my life." The Naccarellis have two children, who also have performed in "The Nutcracker."

Restaurants have "soft openings" to get the service and kitchen staff used to working with customers, preparing meals and delivering them to clients in a timely fashion.

"From the beginning, we wanted a soft opening that would involve the Alameda Civic Ballet," the co-owner said.

The Naccarellis began work on the restaurant about 18 months ago, when they heard that the previous Italian restaurant at the same location, Zeytini, had closed.

"That piqued our curiosity," Naish Naccarelli said.

Giuseppe Naccarelli had been with Il Fornaio for nearly 20 years and was vice president of kitchen operations for the company's 22 restaurants.

"We were not looking to open a restaurant, but we saw this opportunity," Naish Naccarelli said. "We live here and love the town. It became worth it to us for him to leave the great job he had with Il Fornaio. We decided to be brave and go out on our own."

She said regarding the benefit Friday: "Our goal is to provide guests with a lovely dining experience while raising some funds for the ballet company. On Saturday, we will do our VIP grand opening with the mayor and others."

Monday is the official opening day for the public.

"We are so excited to bring something unique to Alameda," she said. "The restaurant is exquisitely beautiful and we are amazed at how this vision has come together."

Friday night's benefit dinner for the ballet will include an appetizer, pasta or meat entree, tiramisu and wine. Seatings will begin at 5:30 p.m., and child care will be provided at the Alameda Ballet studio on Park Street.

The Naccarellis are asking for donations of $50 to $75 per couple, plus a tip for servers. (The donations will be accepted in cash or by check only.) The event is limited to 100 guests, who are advised to make reservations by e-mailing Christine@trabocco.com.

IF YOU GO
What: Alameda Civic Ballet benefit
Where: Trabocco, South Shore Center
When: Seatings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Friday
Cost: Suggested donation of $50 to $75 per couple
RSVP: Christine@trabocco.com