Restaurant News & Reviews

Creative and classic Italian at Mustache Pete’s in Cambria

Dining Out. Mustache Pete's in Cambria. Eggplant napolean with mushrooms and parmesan. 
Photo by Joe Johnston 02-19-10
Dining Out. Mustache Pete's in Cambria. Eggplant napolean with mushrooms and parmesan. Photo by Joe Johnston 02-19-10 Tribune

If you’re looking for a wide range of Italian-inspired fare, Mustache Pete’s in Cambria offers plenty of pastabilities, plus pizzas, paninis, piccatas and polentas.

Owner Dennis Blume — if you see someone there who looks like he could be called “Mustache Pete,” that’s him— opened the restaurant on Burton Drive in 1986, creating a place for locals and visitors alike to enjoy hearty Italian food in a welcoming atmosphere. The cozy bar area downstairs is a great place to watch the big games and enjoy lunch, while the slightly more formal upstairs dining room is the setting for dinner. Blume also recently opened up an arcade room for kids of all ages, and those of a certain era can even dust off their “Pac-Man” skills.

Over its many years of operation, Mustache Pete’s has added a lot of items to the menu in response to its customers, but the sprawling bill of fare is currently undergoing a touch of spring cleaning. “We’re finding that people are looking for lighter food, so we’re streamlining the menu a bit, and actually just going back to more authentic Italian,” said Blume.

Spearheading that revamp is executive chef David Siegele, who holds a bachelor of professional studies degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Among the new specials he’s already created are pan-seared scallops served on parmesan polenta cakes, lemon and mint shrimp scampi atop orzo instead of the usual linguini, and “Eggplant Napoleon” — an intriguing mini tower of eggplant slices with mushrooms and parmesan.

Though the menu is getting a bit of a facelift, longtime patrons of Mustache Pete’s needn’t worry that they won’t be able to get their favorite dishes. Blume noted that “if one of my 20-year clients comes in and asks for something and we have the ingredients, we’ll certainly make it.” Also, the odds are good that standards such as Caesar salad and spaghetti carbonara, veal piccata and chicken marsala, fettuccini Alfredo and the rich, meaty, slow-braised “Pete’s Ragu” will be sticking around.

Mustache Pete’s tried-and- true pizza pies aren’t going anywhere either, and Siegele has added a whole-wheat crust to the existing regular and thin crusts, both of which are made from scratch with Firestone Double Barrel Ale. Choose from classics like a Margarita (aka Margherita) or a Four Cheese pizza, or go for stepped-up combinations like the Shrimp and Pesto, Roasted Garlic and Chicken, and the spicy “Keenan’s Burning Desire” with pepperoni, pineapple and jalapeños.

You can make your own pizza by dressing up a basic cheese with a wide range of toppings, and Mustache Pete’s recently introduced “Build Your Own Paninis,” which Blume said “have been very popular.” His personal favorite is New York pastrami and sauerkraut, but you can also order up more traditional Italian flavors such as chicken and pepperoni with marinara.

Siegele added that “we make all the panini bread everyday,” as well as the bread and biscuits that accompany the entrées. “We’re a destination restaurant, so we really want to deliver that level of quality.”

Blume wholeheartedly agreed, noting that part of Mustache Pete’s mission statement is “to give people quality food and quality service, but at a reasonable price. We even lowered our prices a bit this year, and we offer a great loyalty program for repeat customers. We’re trying to be in tune with what the world is going through, and to give people a good experience.”

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