April 05, 2007
In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to try both of these quaint little Italian places in Pasadena.
I have been wanting to go back to “Dino’s” for the last 10 years, I had my 21st birthday dinner there with my father, grandfather, and sister back in um 1981! (yea ok so now you know how old I am). I vaguely recall having this after dinner drink called “Lost in the Woods”, I had asked the waiter (and boy those young Italian men were so cute back in ’81) why the name? Ah, because once you drink one you feel as if you are lost in the woods! Yes, it packed quite the punch!
Dino’s evolved to Scarantino’s about a year ago, same family, similar menu. The inside was not as dark as I had remembered, it was busy, but not full on a Saturday evening, the food in front of people looked appetizing, and I was hungry. I opted for chicken piccatta, it was a little over sauced but not overcooked, I ordered my pasta with alfredo instead of a red sauce and the combination was nice. There was the Dino’s salad that I remember, same dressing. Which I liked quite a bit, sort of a creamy tangy Italian.
There were large amounts of food served. I ordered wine by the glass, a Paso Robles chardonnay. I believe it was $9 a glass, which seems a little steep compared to the overall pricing, which was very reasonable for the amount and quality. I would defiantly go back; it was not gourmet Italian, but it was good and I am going to guess that it will be consistent, and a good place to take those who want a typical Italian restaurant with a standard menu.
A couple weeks later I was invited to a birthday dinner at Tarrantino’s. I love this little hole in the wall (seriously). They take cash only, and have rows of tables against the walls, and tables also going down the center of the restaurant, and yes they have red checkered tablecloths! And there was this clique of 4 men sitting at one of the tables that could have been Tony and his Captains. This place gets high marks from Chowhounders and I was anxious to try their food.
One of my favorite dishes is Carbonara, especially when it is prepared traditionally. It was on the menu, so I was in heaven. Other dishes ordered were a spinach pizza which I had been also anxious to try, shrimp pasta and spicy eggplant pasta. Of course we all started with a Tarrantino’s salad. The dressing was a tangy vinaigrette, my only complaint was too much oregano. I think I like Dino's, OOPS, Scarntinos dressing better.
When my dish arrived it looked delicious! My mouth watered. Chunks of proscuitto and pieces of onion, flecks of red pepper; I stuck my fork in and twirled a nice bite to put in my mouth. Mmmmmmmm! The pork was cooked just right, a little fatty a little crunchy a lot of flavor, the pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was perfect. My only complaint was the fact it was very spicy, a bit too much red pepper. But I am also a wimp when it comes to spiciness. I continued to eat (and share) my dish, drinking big gulps of wine to put out the fire. I also tasted the spinach pizza, what a delight! There was a generous layer of spinach under the melted cheese. Happy food. The prices are incredibly reasonable, the menu is varied, and the food is wonderful. We brought our own wine; the corkage fee is $10. I can’t wait to go back and order the carbornara again, easy on the pepper flakes.
Scarantino's 2055 E Colorado Blvd Pasadena (626) 844-6633
Tarrantino's 784 E Green St Pasadena (626) 796-7836