Dec. 15--If you want to eat as well as Pete Alfano did as a child in Chicago, then all you have to do is dine at his new restaurant, Pietro Alfano's The Italian Pasta House at 629 S. Main St. in Burlington.
Why? Because Alfano's mother, Lina Alfano, is doing the cooking.
For Pete, it is the second restaurant he's opened in Burlington in the last two years. He opened The Italian, a pizza and sub shop, at 300 S. Leebrick St. in March 2012. His latest eatery opened Dec. 3 and is a quaint place where customers can order takeout or eat in at the Pasta House's limited seating.
Most of the recipes come straight from Sicily as Lina came to the United States as a 21-year-old.
Pete is the fourth generation of his family to be in the restaurant business. He opened a pizza place in Chicago at 16 years of age while in high school, and later sold the enterprise.
For the moment, 26 pastas make up the menu of the new restaurant. Pete said the favorites thus far have been shrimp scampi, chicken alfredo and chicken broccoli alfredo.
One ringing endorsement of the food may have come from a customer's actions last week. Though criticized by his wife, a husband literally licked the remaining sauce off his plate.
"He put it on Facebook it was the best pasta he'd every had," Pete said.
Some of the customers of Alfano's pizza place have paid a visit to the Pasta House to try out his mother's dishes.
"A lot of customers up there have come here," Pete said.
What gives customers of The Italian Pasta House a unique experience is the way Alfano remodeled the facility. When Five Star Pizza closed up shop at the location, Alfano was eager to use the place for his pasta restaurant. He started the remodeling process in September, bringing in prep tables, stoves and equipment he'd acquired from auctions over the years.
Following the example of his Uncle Sam, owner of Salvatore's Ristorante in Muscatine, Alfano decided to put a counter/bar between the dining area and the kitchen. The design allows the six customers sitting at the counter to watch the chef, Lina, whip up her Italian specialties.
"You can react with your customers," Pete said. "You can thank them for their business. You can see the reaction on their faces to the food."
Besides the counter seats, there is only room for three tables with seating for four people at each one. With limited seating, customers are encouraged to make reservations by calling (309) 258-3987.
Pete said his father, Joe Alfano, who is retired, likes to mingle with the customers and has the unofficial title of public relations person.
For takeout, the restaurant added a drive-up window, which went into operation last week.
Along with the variety of pasta dishes, The Italian serves salads, appetizers such as classic red brushetta and antipasta caprese, and desserts like tiramisu and cannoli.
The restaurant will serve a variety of Italian wines with the meals, once it receives its liquor license.
The Pasta House also will do its share of catering for family gatherings, holiday events and business functions.
Alfano figures he has 21 employees between the pizza place on South Leebrick Street and the pasta house on South Main Street.
The Italian Pasta House will be open Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Pete's restaurants use the slogan "We're not perfect ... We're Italian," although some of the customers may think the entrees and food are perfect.