A grumpy-sounding bar named Angry Dwarf Saloon, which opened this past spring in Exposition Park, is about to get a makeover from a Dallas restaurant old-timer.
Prodigal son Peter Tarantino, who was involved in the Dallas restaurant scene in the '90s and early 2000s, is currently helping to manage Angry Dwarf. He has plans to transform it into a bar-restaurant called Record Lounge that will have upscale bar food and a vinyl records theme.
"I've been a vinyl collector since the 1970s, and vinyl is exploding now," he says. "There are a lot of organizations, like Vinyl Preservation Society of D/FW, that meet at different bars, and a bunch of people show up."
Tarantino spent the past year with family in Lubbock. "I was living with my brother Matthew and his family, and Patrick and his family lived two minutes away," he says. "It was refreshing and nice to be around family again."
Then he got a request from an old friend, Alberto Gutierrez, who'd opened the Angry Dwarf Saloon at 835 Exposition Ave., in the old Fallout Lounge space. The bar was a lifelong dream of Gutierrez's and his wife's, but right as it opened, he was diagnosed with cancer. With all that was happening, it went adrift, so he asked Tarantino to help out.
Tarantino, who last had a restaurant called Tarantino's in Deep Ellum in 2005, has catered off and on over the years and has a repertoire of popular favorites. Assuming he can get the kitchen in place, his menu will include a few items from his family's trademark Italian cuisine, buttressed by healthier dishes that Tarantino and his chef brother Patrick have developed.
"I'm going to go simple," Tarantino says. "The centerpiece will be my famous meatballs in a variety of options. And I am going to do a lot of healthy food, like healthy panini, salads, and fruit and cheese platters."
That includes a low-fat turkey meatball as well as vegetarian and vegan options. "My brother Patrick will help me develop those," he says. "We have our Sicilian heritage, but Patrick — who has a degree in gastronomy — has been on a vegan and vegetarian phase and is doing some interesting things."
Now recovering from surgery, Gutierrez is still involved with the place, but he is leaving the future up to Tarantino.
"The lounge is open at 4 pm every day with a fully stocked bar," Tarantino says. "Alberto did an incredible renovation. We're just waiting to hear back from the city on what we'll need to do, but we are planning for what we think will be the coolest lounge in Texas."
Peter's last local affiliation was with Ricardo Avila, who has since moved to Hawaii. Before Tarantino's in Deep Ellum, he owned Tarantino's in Exposition Park.
"I'm back in my old neighborhood," he says.