Paradise on Green Street

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Required fields are marked * When Danny Tarantine, owner of Tarantino’s Pizzeria, first had the inspiration to open his own restaurant in Pasadena back in 1984, he had only $600 in the bank, but a lot of energy.“I was actually working at The Sawmill, not far away, during that time,” he remembered, sitting in a booth and chatting on a quiet afternoon between the lunch rush and the dinner crowd. “I would work here from 6 in the morning to about 5:30,” he said, “and then I would go to the Sawmill in the early evening and tend bar there until about 2 in the morning, and I did that for about nine months!”But his little restaurant was slowly growing. “I had a paper sign in the window here, and that was it!,” he said.And he also had a lot of friends, from years of tending bar. “They’re the ones who got me started,” he said. Now, the friendly little pizzeria with the green awning on Green Street has been serving traditional Italian food to new and loyal customers for close to 32 years.Let’s go back further than that for a moment, though, back to Weirton, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from Steubenville, where Danny’s grandmother lived. Danny came from a hard-working Italian family, but oddly enough, he was the only one who enjoyed cooking.“My mother and father were terrible cooks,” he laughed. “It was my grandmother who taught me to cook. I spent a lot of time there at her place, Saturdays and Sundays, I was always there. That’s where I learned to cook.”He went to college to study journalism, but eventually the pull of restaurants and the idea of one day owning his place, overwhelmed him, and he moved out to Southern California in hopes of one day putting his own byline on a restaurant.Eventually, Danny brought his parents out to actually partner in the restaurant, one of two he now owns. “They were partners here for about twenty years,” he recalled. “My Dad sat in that chair over there, by the register, and smoked cigarettes, and talked to customers. That was his contribution,” Danny smiled. Dad and a brother also sang for their suppers, literally, crooning “New York, New York,” and other American songbook standards for a very hungry and appreciative audience.But it wasn’t necessarily the music bringing everyone in. True to his upbringing, Tarantine serves traditional down-home Italian food, from a wide range of pastas to a gourmet Florentine pizza, and nearly everything in between. (When I first arrived, and waiting for our interview to begin, a staff member brought out a plate of their garlic rolls to me, fresh out of the oven, wading in olive oil and garlic, to keep me busy. I think I truly might have been happy with just those.)And it’s really like visiting an Italian friend to visit Tarantino’s. My plate was never empty on that first visit, from the garlic rolls, to a spectacular ravioli, that I happily struggled to finish, and then the enormous pizza he insisted I take home with me, at the end of my meal.The food is simple and the menu is wide-ranging. In fact, if you have not eaten yet today, continue on here at your own peril. The sauces, which are all fresh and made in-house, are heavenly and rich, the definition of comfort food. We had a simple spaghetti and meatballs on our second visit, and it was pure and delicious. As it should be, says Danny.“Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant,” he said. “That is what I order. If that’s good, then they really know what they’re doing.” He seems to know what he is doing.Though we have tried only a pizza and a pasta, Tarantino’s offers so much more. There are nearly a dozen sandwiches, from Panini to Philly Cheese steaks and submarines. The pizza dough is sweet and slightly crunchy at the same time, with a vast selection of toppings. There are also a few seafood dishes with fresh shrimp and mussels dressed up in a variety of combinations for your palate’s perusal.Best of so many things here, are the all-you-can-eat specials Monday through Thursday evenings, featuring spaghetti, calzones, stromboli and carmine. Pick any of those nights, all the choices are affordable, and bound to be delicious.Looking for a spot where they’ll remember you? Where the owner makes the sauces himself every day? Where you’re never disappointed with the food? Where you arrive happy and leave happier? I can pretty much guarantee most of those things, except for maybe arriving happy. Let’s call it arriving hungry and leaving a lot happier. And it will be more than the food that changes your mood.Tarantino’s is at 734 East Green Street, Pasadena. (626) 796-7836. www.tarantinospasadena.com Community News Subscribe Name (required)  Mail (required) (not be published)  Website  Business News top box 10 Paradise on Green Street Tarantino’s offers down-home Italian food in the Playhouse District By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor Published on Friday, May 6, 2016 | 7:32 pm Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday Community News Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. 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