By Jano Tantongco
As the co-owner of the time-tested Tutto Pazzo, Luigi Petrone says the hardest part about being successful is to stay successful.
Petrone and his brother, Joseph, established Tutto Pazzo on Sept. 8, 1992, which means the restaurant’s 25th anniversary is just around the corner. Since they’ve opened their doors, their creativity and dedication to uniquely hand-crafted stuffed pastas, fresh seafood and artisan desserts make up the culinary aspect that has elevated the establishment to continued success.
On the other end, the brothers have ensured that their “key components” making up their essential staff are committed and disciplined, with some members there since they opened their doors. That, Luigi said, is a cornerstone of their rock-solid presence in Huntington.
“That’s how you build the institution,” Petrone said.
And those who have looked them up online know that Petrone is widely acclaimed for his exuberant, and sometimes hilarious, Facebook videos. They’ve been instrumental in the restaurant’s success, not only keeping up with technological advancement, but also in letting prospective customers get a first-hand perspective into the inner workings of Tutto Pazzo, he said.
“Food has become such a revolution on social media,” Petrone said. “What I do right now, they’re going to know about in five minutes. Then, they’ll be here later on to try it.”
Looking back, Petrone recalled his background beginning working in his family’s restaurant in Hicksville, called Villa Parma, where he started as a busboy. Then, he moved to California with some of his uncles and dived deeper into the culinary arts, learning the trade from his Roman mentor, Chef Angelo.
He came back to the East Coast in 1988 and opened a restaurant called Spuntino in Mineola, then moving on to open Tutto Bono in Port Washington the next year. And finally, in 1992, he and Joseph established Tutto Pazzo, with Luigi working the back and his brother in the front, working in tandem with the chef-general manager dynamic.
Now at the Huntington restaurant steps away from Huntington Harbor he whips up dishes like the special Avocado Volcano ($17.95), a natural bounty of sliced, creamy avocados with fresh chewy mozzarella, fresh crushed pistachios, topped with peach balsamic vinegar from The Crushed Olive down the block in Huntington village and Spanish olive oil. It’s further enhanced by slightly tart Peruvian teardrop peppers, and it’s all topped with dehydrated tomato flakes for an added natural savoriness.
Serving up a sampling of the restaurant’s renowned stuffed pastas, the carmela twister pasta was served in a pool of zesty pomodoro sauce, with a tortellini Cappella di Papa with a pesto sauce, and Trianguli Pyramida steeped in a sultry butter parmigiana sauce. The carmela was especially chewy, with a deeply robust sauce. The tortellini bursts with creamy goodness, underscored by the naturally savory pesto. And, the pyramida was thinner, and almost pillow-like in how it contained the stuffing, with parimigiana sauce bringing it to buttery perfection.
As for dessert, the Chocolate Apple Pie ($11.95) brings together fluffy apple mousse glazed with chocolate, topped with a dehydrated apple, and there’s a disc of Godiva chocolate pudding tucked inside. Gold leaf stars fleck the outer glaze, and it’s sprinkled with walnuts and with a spread of caramel glaze on the side, making this dish not only a slice of chocolate heaven, but also aesthetically out of this world.
Last but not least, the Deconstructed Carrot Cake Gelato ($11.95) features a moist carrot cake base, gelato including boiled carrots, cinnamon, whipped cream and pumpkin syrup. The gelato is just slightly sweet, and is so smooth, it’s barely there. The cake absorbs its components excellently, and by mixing up each spoonful, diners can “construct” the deconstruction..