With wide experience as a chef and restaurateur, Joe Tarantino opened Tarantino’s to the public last week. Located at the site of the old Primos Italian Pizza Kitchen on Brannen St., Tarantino’s will offer pizza, various Italian dishes and other specialties.
“I love Italian food. That’s what I grew up with my grandmother cooking,” Tarantino said. “Here in Statesboro, we have created a completely wild experience – bringing you back to the 30s, 40s, 50s.”
“My passion is cooking for others and creating an experience for people that puts a smile on their face and watching them enjoy the food,” he said. “When you come in here, we want to take you out of your element. We don’t have news stations on the TVs. It’s all themed. You’re here for an experience. Food is directly related to all positive things and everything is positive in the restaurant.”
During Wednesday’s sneak preview that was open only to locals who subscribe to Tarantino’s Facebook page, gangster movies were playing on the screens.
Originally from Boston, Tarantino served in the U.S. Air Force from 1993 to 1998. After he got out, he “tried about a million different jobs,” he said, before going into the restaurant business.
“And I’ve been studying the restaurant business as a chef, as a restaurant operator, multi-unit manager, director of operations for many different companies: TGI Fridays, Applebee’s … all kinds of stuff,” Tarantino said. “I’ve worked in casinos as a five-star chef … all over the country.”
A relationship brought him to Georgia. After plans to open a steakhouse in Dublin fell through, he “started in a one-traffic-light town” in 2014, he said. That was Reidsville, location of his first Tarantino’s restaurant. Then he relocated to Hawks Point Golf Club in Vidalia, developing a following there for almost two years before the golf course closed in 2018.
In 2020, he operated a restaurant in the Five Points convenience store on Northside Drive.
Tarantino’s is currently open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. Tarantion said he will open will open for lunch at a later date.