As the New Year unfolds, I’m proud to announce Tutti Mangia will be entering its 20th year in business. My business partner and brother-in-law Jim, and I are thankful for what 2015 brought Tutti Mangia, and going forward into 2016, there is still room for growth and even room for a little change. But before I discuss change, allow me to share with you the rewarding journey that allowed us to open Tutti Mangia’s doors.
If not for a series of key events prior to the restaurant’s opening in 1996, Tutti Mangia may have never opened at all. The first of these events was in 1983, when I was attending Cal-Poly Pomona majoring in the Hotel & Restaurant Management Program. One afternoon I went to lunch with my future sister-in- law at a restaurant in Claremont called the First Street Bar & Grill. Our wine class professor had helped with developing their wine menu and highly recommended the establishment. So we went and had a wonderful lunch, and even shared a nice bottle of Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc. Our professor would have been proud.
Jim and I had been looking at several locations, as far south as Brea. Then in 1985, we purchased a 750 sq. ft. pizza take out operation in Glendora. We were focused on opening an Italian-American concept with a menu of traditional pizza and pasta, but with a flavor profile that had more depth than what one would typically get from a mom and pop Italian restaurant. Before opening Spaghetti Eddie’s Pizza & Pasta we learned how to make pizza from the owner, Salvatore Giordano, and we used family recipes for all of our Italian dishes.
Cal Poly Pomona midway through my restaurant major and opening up my own business, likened to a college ball player being drafted before finishing his senior year. The day we opened, I remember marching out 20 yards into the parking lot to get a view of the front facade and our new lit sign. I thought it would be a great feat, however, as I turned around and looked up I was saddened not to have gotten the rush of excitement for a job well done or the urge to beat my chest signifying a valiant victory. What I felt, however, was the birth of a new challenge. The feeling of paternal responsibility to do whatever was in my power to nurture the business and build it to be a strong entity.
In 1995, Jim and I discussed the idea of opening another Spaghetti Eddie’s or a slightly different Italian concept, a restaurant that would focus on the quality of the product at the center of the plate with the necessary culinary balance of acids, fats, and seasoning plus the seasonal focus of fresh ingredients. I had wanted change from the simple spaghetti with marinara and pepperoni pizza—dishes that I certainly love, however I had the desire to get more creative. I knew it was time to venture out!
Finally, in the summer of 1996, I heard about a restaurant location in Claremont that might be available. I remember walking into Orchid Garden Chinese restaurant and having a d.j. vu moment. I immediately realized that this restaurant was the old First Street Bar & Grill location. I also recalled the lunch I had been fortunate to have 13 years earlier, how busy and electric the restaurant was and that the locals were receptive to an upper tier cuisine . Certainly they would appreciate our new restaurant’s focus. After meeting the owner of Orchid Garden and discussing the sale, I called Jim and told him to meet me there. After a couple of hours we had a handshake!
Since the beginning, Tutti Mangia’s menu has been shaped by our customers and the growth of the restaurant has been fueled by the desire to meet the requests of the local community’s well-traveled guests. In the past few years, we have evolved into an Italian Chophouse by adding prime steaks and chops to our Italian menu. As we move forward into 2016, we are still focusing on the center of the plate quality but we are now a niche lunch and dinner house positioned for further success with steakhouses being the number one splurge restaurant in the U.S. and Italian being the number one ethnic dining choice. It will be our quest to continue our stature as one of the premier local restaurants while keeping our menu competitive in the marketplace. Jim and I are incredibly pleased with Tutti Mangia Italian Grill and the future we see for our restaurant. We can’t thank our patrons enough for your continued loyalty and the part you’ve played in Tutti Mangia’s evolution and success.
As we head into our twentieth year, we have decided to make a few changes at Tutti Mangia. We have a new general manager (see page 2), exciting new monthly tastings, new late night happy hour and contemporary jazz music on Friday and Saturday nights. Tutti Mangia has a lot going on in 2016 with celebrating our 20th anniversary in Claremont and we know our guests want to be kept in the loop. We hope this newsletter continues to give patrons insight on everything they want and need to know about the restaurant! Jim and I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and have a very successful 2016.