by Emily Dulanski
In our growing dependence on greasy fast food, it is getting more difficult to find the time to sit down for some good home cooking. However, "home cooking" does not necessarily mean cooking at home. Many of us would rather enjoy the meal without the preparation or clean up. Grand Island's Town Café offers just the opportunity for a fresh, affordable meal for the average family.
"We wanted to be able to show you could put out a quality meal (at a place) you could afford to go to with your family three times a week," said Lynn Quarantello, one of the bar staff at the Town Café. Her parents opened the restaurant and still own the business.
"My parents have been in the restaurant business since 1957," said Quarantello. "This is their fourth restaurant."
While the Town Café offers many American staples such as hamburgers ($6.50 for 1/3 pound), a daily fish fry ($9.95) and New York strip steak ($16.95 for 12 ounces), the owners' Italian background contributes a whole different side to the menu.
"We use a lot of my grandmother's recipes, like the minestrone soup," said Quarantello. All of the soups and salads are homemade, as well as the pizza.
"We started doing pizzas to compete with the seven pizzerias on the Island," said Quarantello. "They're all hand-stretched pizza dough, all hand-tossed, and everything's fresh. We're the only Italians on the Island who make pizza."
Some of the specialty pizzas the Town Cafe offers are white pizza, Sicilian pizza and spinach and feta cheese pizza. These start at $8.50 for a small and $12 for a large.
In addition to hosting events such as wedding showers, graduation parties and funeral breakfasts, the Town Café makes it an everyday practice to focus on the customers.
"We do our best to give special, individualized attention," said Quarantello. "There's no rush, and no wait (for a table). It's going to take a little longer for your food, but it's fresh and there's enough to take home."
Special needs of the customer are also taken into consideration, even in areas such as the soup and salad bar.
"We don't over-season anything because of people's allergies," said Quarantello. "We're also peanut-free."
There are options available for vegetarians, such as pasta with plain sauce (starting at $7.95), salads (specialty salads start at $8.95), and veggie pizza ($10.50 for small, $14.50 for large). The Town Cafe is also known for having an extraordinarily clean kitchen.
"The health inspector eats here," said Quarantello. "Salesmen and people who do our stock comment on the cleanliness."
According to Quarantello, most of the customers that come through are tourists rather than Islanders. However, there are a number of regulars that frequent the restaurant.
"My bar is always full," said Quarantello. "Our slogan is ‘A great place to make friends' ... and many of our regulars who have met here are now good friends."
The Town Café is located at 2352 Grand Island Blvd., and is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from noon until 10 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant phone number is 773-7373.