By Melissa Wynn

[media-credit id=4 align=”alignnone” width=”300″]Trish Barb and Gina Tantardino[/media-credit]

Summer has returned to the Sierras and Lake Almanor is calling, “Come and Play!” After a relaxing day of fishing and swimming, who wants to go home and cook dinner? Not me!  So when our day of fun in the sun comes to an end, we prefer pasta at Tantardinos Pizzeria and Pasta. For twenty years, Art and Barb Tantardino and their family have been serving exquisite home- made Italian fare from old family recipes at 401 Ponderosa Dr. on the Lake Almanor Peninsula. The pizza is hot (also available for take and bake) and the beer is cold, irresistible.

My latest visit was a family celebration.  Our meal began with festive libations, including top shelf Patron Tequila and margaritas from the full bar for the boys, and Kendall Jackson Chardonnay from the varied wine list for my sister and I.  Cheers! Soon came the appetizer, tender ‘Steamed Clams’ ($8.99) in a delicate yet flavorful white wine sauce, served with Tantardinos famous house cheese bread. We quickly devoured the entire heaping bowl. Delicious!

Next came fresh garden salad with an amazing mix of dressings suggested by Barb’s daughter Trish, 12 year operator of Tantardinos. The homemade basil vinaigrette, with just a touch of bleu cheese, comprises the awesome ‘Basil and Bleu’. While we were munching salads, long time Tantardino chefs Erin Lundergreen and Ben Hovland, were in the kitchen preparing our pasta perfection. My sister and I both ordered the evening special ($16.99), a delightful bow tie pasta with huge prawns, crisp asparagus,  marinated artichoke hearts, juicy grape tomatoes, romano cheese and fresh basil all mixed in blissful harmony with a mouth watering white wine cream sauce.  Sweet Italian sausage over pasta ($14.99) with Tantardinos outstanding red meat sauce, was my brother-in-law’s entree choice. I can’t believe he ate the whole thing.  My better half just can’t resist good sourdough bread, so for him the fresh baked ‘Sour Dough Bread Bowl’ brimming with steaming homemade clam chowder ($9.99) served with a garden fresh side salad was a no-brainer. The homemade lasagna ($15.99) served at the next table looked so good that we all vowed to try it soon.

No family celebration is complete without dessert, so we all shared two. The sweet smell of cinnamon reached our table just before the huge slice of ‘Apple Pie Pizza’ drizzled in a smooth homemade caramel sauce arrived. Of course we polished it off, along with the ‘Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae’ ($6.99). The brownie was so thick and rich that our party of four could barely finish it. It was torture, but we managed. (Wink). All in all, it was a great Italian meal I won’t soon forget.

Beyond pizza and pasta, Tantardinos serves several popular salads including the meaty antipasto ($10.99) with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and olives atop a bed of mixed greens. Homemade Sicilian meatballs in savory meat sauce on a homemade hoagie, dripping with mozzarella, and topped with mushrooms and bell peppers ($8.99) is just one of many extraordinary sandwiches served with a smile by Susan Sherod, for eight years, at Tantardinos. Sandwiches are served until 4:00, but dinner  on the patio with the Tantardinos is a leisurely  pleasure that lingers past sunset.

Art, Barb and daughters Trish and Gina are happy to serve you 11:30-9:00 weekdays and 11:30-9:30 Friday and Saturday. Tantardinos is closed on Sundays. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling (530) 596-3902. A full menu is available online at Come taste the flavors of our neck of the woods; tantalize your taste buds at Tantardinos on the Lake Almanor Peninsula.

(click on photos to enlarge)