Stoney Point: the legend lives on
By Frier McCollister
Pasadena Weekly Contributing Writer
OOn Saturdays at Stoney Point, a foodie picking up an order for a take out dinner can be greeted by a distinguished and elegant gentleman in a dapper suit who offers to haul his luggage to the waiting car.
That gentleman is Amedeo Costantino, the 87-year-old owner of Stoney Point and a living local legend in Pasadena’s gastronomic history.
“I started Old Town,” Amedeo said in a loud stage whisper. Joined by his daughter Roberta, who is the alleged CEO of the company, Amedeo recalled his forays into the local restaurant scene.
The Costantinos took over Stoney Point in 1994, but the opening represented the culmination of a trip that began in Naples.
“He worked as a bus boy in Naples at the age of 12,” said Roberta.
Working for a large restaurant that employed over 160 people, he eventually became a bartender with his own business.
“I had a bar in Naples, then I moved north to the Riviera,” Amedeo said.
Amedeo opened its first restaurants independently on the Italian Riviera, the second in the seaside town of Varazze. Meanwhile, an older brother moved to Southern California and began bringing in the remaining five siblings. Amedeo and his wife, Antonietta, arrived in 1972 but did not join the brother. As Roberta said, “Thank goodness we didn’t go. He was at South Gate.
Instead, the Costantinos settled in Pasadena. Amedeo first consulted for Anthony’s Deli in Arcadia, before establishing Primo Gourmet, on South Lake in 1976.
“In 1981, I opened the Italian Fisherman. It was the very first restaurant in the old town, ”Amedeo said.
Roberta added, “When Old Town was like, you had to be driven to your car. It was terrible.”
At the forefront of Pasadena’s redevelopment of its decrepit old downtown, Costantino qualified for a $ 30,000 grant from the city to open the restaurant.
Occupying the ground floor of the historic Braley Building on Raymond Avenue – now the home of the Scientology Center – the Italian fisherman quickly became a staple in local gastronomy and provided a vital impetus to the revival of the Old Town. .
“It was beautiful,” said Roberta.
With a capacity of 160 seats in its main dining room, memories of the Italian fisherman are still evoked by former customers of that time.
“I want to go and break a wall over there,” Roberta said. “We had all the exposed bricks done with beautiful fresco-like paintings, and then they covered them with drywall.”
Meanwhile, in the mid-1990s, the former owners of the venerable Stoney Point abandoned the restaurant.
“Stoney Point was closed for tax evasion. These brothers – Adolfo and Alfonso Mares – persuaded my father to open this place.
The Mares brothers worked with Amadeo and now, over 25 years later, they can still be found overseeing the commotion outside the Stoney Point home. Loyalty is a theme here.
During this time, the Costantino family empire continued to develop. Roberta opened Bella Sera on Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia, while the matriarch of the Antonietta family started Café Sole, which still operates under new owners near La Canada.
Speaking about her mother, Roberta noted, “She’s in the kitchen now. She breaks her chops (from Amadeo).
Glancing through the kitchen door, Antonietta was spotted through a plume of steam rising from a huge pot of boiling pasta.
When the pandemic lockdown arrived last March, the Stoney Point pivoted quickly. The restaurant closed for two weeks and the staff were paid. From the first week of April, the operation was operational again for delivery and take-out. Stoney Point customers have rallied to the cause.
As Roberta recalled, “I can’t tell you, it makes me cry. Customer support was amazing. “
Amadeo said, “We have very, very loyal customers.”
Roberta continued to elaborate, “One of our good clients made color flyers and put them in every mailbox in this area. A man would come by once a week and say, “Make me pay $ 100.” He wouldn’t even get anything. “Make me pay $ 100. Astonishing. “
When al fresco dining was permitted, the charming tented pavilion accommodating 40 people was quickly built.
“We jumped on it (but) we paid through the nose,” said Roberta. “Do you know how difficult it was to find tents and other things?”
Their owner also charged extra for the outdoor space. Outdoor accommodations added $ 3,000 to their monthly exposure.
“You earn less and you have to support more,” added Roberta.
The menu at Stoney Point hasn’t changed much over the years and that’s the point. The fierce loyalty of the restaurant’s clientele is based on a trust in the reliability and consistency of the experience.
Ask Amadeo for menu favorites and he’ll point you to lamb chops ($ 33.95) with Dijon mustard sauce and minced Kalamata olives, or bolognese rigatoni ($ 19.95). Roberta noted the sand pads ($ 26.95) with a lemon caper sauce and the endive salad ($ 15.95) with crumbled blue cheese, nuts and grapes. She describes him as being “out of the ordinary” with the regulars.
In the past, the Stoney Point experience included a lively bar activity on Saturday nights. With a grand piano at its end, the bar at Stoney Point hosted talented amateur singers, often dressed in black dresses and ties. With the pianist playing from sheet music provided by the singers, the scene gave new meaning to the idea of karaoke.
There was a hoarse elegance to the sound bustle at the bar. It didn’t always end up well with diners looking for a slightly quieter dining area, but it only happened at Stoney Point.
Stoney Point is not so much a step back in time, but a step out of time. It exists on its own, for itself, and delivers its blend of laid-back continental sophistication and neighborhood affability with unwavering consistency. What about that guy in a suit with the take-out bags? He started Old Town.