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Pazzo More Than Just Food And Drink

October 4, 2018

Pazzo More Than Just Food And Drink

Manning the line runs in Sam Agolino’s blood. It’s a proud tradition the second-generation restaurateur continues with his authentic Italian eatery, Pazzo in Jenkins Twp. The West Pittston native grew up in his family’s restaurant, Agolino’s, where he observed dedicated work ethics in his parents, Joseph and Carmelina. At 11 or 12, he started washing dishes; by 16, he was closing the restaurant; and at 20, he was in charge of everything. “I was raised by line cooks,” Agolino said. “It’s my life. It’s my blood. It’s what I do. I’m just a hard-working cook.” He went on to graduate with degrees in hotel/restaurant management from Luzerne County Community College and Widener University, then stayed in the Philadelphia area for a few years to open and manage a few Italian places. Agolino came back to Northeast Pennsylvania around 2003 and went to work at Brutico’s before returning home to Agolino’s for a time (his siblings Joey and Lisa operate the business now). In May 2005, he opened Pazzo with his sister, Corinne, who manages the front of the house while Agolino puts together hearty appetizers and dinners in the kitchen. “With the menu, I try to stay true to authentic Italian,” he explained. “I do have some fan favorites, like the spaghetti and meatballs, and I make a lot of the pastas.” Certain dishes have been a hit since Pazzo opened its doors, including the Cinzano (sauteed chicken breast, diced imported prosciutto, wild mushrooms, shallots, Marsala sauce, whipped potatoes and sauteed spinach); the Di Manzo (grilled beef tenderloin medallions with Gorgonzola, olive oil whipped potatoes, market vegetables and a Marsala demi); and the Pescatore (shrimp, clams and calamari in spicy marinara sauce over linguini). The generous size of dinners like the popular Bolognese leaves diners sated and satisfied. “I can tell when someone drops a plate (on the table), and I can see it in their face,” Agolino said of his customers’ reactions. “I like giving big portions. I want them to have leftovers. My pet peeve is the idea of anyone walking out hungry.” The menu changes seasonally based on what’s in market, meaning guests typically enjoy produce such as butternut squash in the fall and asparagus in the spring. The dining room seats about 75, though the bar area, with seats for about 20, is always the busiest section in Pazzo, Agolino said. Stocked with mostly Italian and some California wines, it provides perfect complements to the dinners, such as the Fig Martini. No matter what the featured special is, however, the service and ambiance always remain cordial. “Whether it’s date night or a special celebration, we’re a destination restaurant. We have a cool vibe. It’s not too loud or crazy — unlike what the name means — and we have a good staff who are all professionals,” Agolino said. “It’s not just food and not just a good drink. It’s going to escape, have a nice night, good service, and forget about life for a while,” he added. “It’s the whole package. It’s all about hospitality. If they leave smiling, we did our job.” Contact the writer: pwilding@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT on Twitter Pazzo Address: 2011 Route 315, Jenkins Twp. Phone: 570-602-4400 Established: May 2005 Owners: Sam and Corinne Agolino Cuisine: Authentic Italian Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, opens at 5 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays except for private events Online: Visit pazzo315.com and follow @PazzoPittston315 on Instagram and Facebook.

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