Scarantino's preserves its vintage mien, all wood paneling and chocolate brown vinyl booths, wall-mounted iron lanterns spilling amber over the required red & white tablecloths, coils of dry grape vines and white Xmas lights*. Italian ballads--the type for linking arms and dancing a saltarello--strum overhead, occasionally toggling to Bennett and Sinatra**.
The bread is painfully normal, but you get those pats of Darigold butter that you peel away from its waxed backing. You unroll your thick napkin and the full complement of silverware spills out: two forks, two spoons, knife.
The minestrone is fair and greenish, its vegetables in varying degrees of doneness. The chicken parmesiana [sic] is fried nicely golden under a sheet of mozzarella, its accompanying spaghetti blanketed with that silky, slightly glowing ragu you remember from the late '70s.
Is it brilliant? Oh, no-no-no. Why am I writing to you about it then? It's the feel of the place. It recalls the old meat n' cheese restaurants, where flavor applied to the interior as well as the food: the various Two Guys from Italy scattered about the Valley; Barone's on Oxnard; the watery sauce at Pipers on Western back in the late '70s before it became part of Koreatown; Miceli's on Cahuenga; Morigi's on Reseda before it changed management in the '80s. All that. Scarantino's doesn't immerse you in memory like a good Tiki-themed restaurant, but there's a touch of "old guys used to eat here" remaining.
Would I eat here again for dinner, or a quiet, kitsch-seasoned lunch? Sure. Would I take an Italian friend here for a business lunch? No comments at this time.
The Pasadena location (claimed to be the oldest Italian restaurant in Pasadena) is apparently now closed. The Glendale building has a few parking spots sprouting from it, but they need to take down that "Now Open For Lunch" banner from the front; it's been there a year and it's rain-filthy by now.
* Really, the world can do without that now. Restaurants should not be lit by strings of holiday lights.
** "Rags to Riches" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It", respectively.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Italian, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock )
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