Founded in 1963 by Andy Zangrilli, Dante’s Restaurants is one of the most unique multi-concept restaurant companies in the area. Restaurants in State College include Hi-Way Pizza, The Deli Restaurant and Z Bar, Mario’s Italian Restaurant, Inferno Brick Oven & Bar, bar bleu, The Saloon and it’s newest location, The Hopshop Beer Market. Gullifty’s is a popular restaurant in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
Dante’s Commissary is the group’s full service bakery. Creating all products fresh from scratch daily, The Commissary provides homemade breads, pizza and pasta doughs, sauces, dressings and award winning desserts to the restaurants on a daily basis.
Approaching 50 years in the hospitality and entertainment industries, Dante’s wants the experience of dining out to be more than just eating. The mood, music, lighting, seating — all are part of the stage that is set as in a theatre production. When this setting is paired with fresh, local and homemade cuisine, dining out at a Dante’s Restaurant becomes entertainment for all.
Andy Zangrilli, owner of Dante’s Restaurants, began his restaurant career at the young age of 13 at a pizza shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He knew he caught the “bug” of the restaurant industry when at 19 he became a manager. At 22, he was ready to strike out on his own, when he persuaded his employer to form a partnership, opening Hi-Way Pizza in State College in 1963.
By 1970, Andy’s success helped him to open two more Hi-Way Pizza locations as well as a retail gourmet food store, Cornucopia. It also enabled him to buy out his partner and incorporate as Dante’s Restaurants.
Dante’s Pizzeria and Ristorante, which was opened in Harrisburg, marked the beginning of an expansion outside of State College. With Andy’s desire to continually refine and improve, Dante’s Pizzeria and Ristorante was used as the basis for what would result in a wildly popular restaurant concept called Gullifty’s. Between 1975 and 1985, four Gullifty’s locations were opened, including locations within the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets.
Continuing his vision, Andy purchased local State College restaurant, The Nittany Lodge, and re-opened as The Deli Restaurant, a fusion concept of a Jewish Style Deli with a traditional “American Kitchen”. The Deli opened with and continues to have the area’s largest menu.
Bringing new experiences to the area has always been a hallmark of Dante’s Restaurants. 1976-77 saw tremendous growth, with two full service Hi-Way Pizza Pub locations, Dante’s Ristorante and Trattoria, Great America, and The Saloon. The Saloon was Andy’s first foray into the nightlife arena—but certainly not the last.
As a way to gain the consistency so necessary to a growing company, The Commissary was formed. Not open to the public, The Commissary prepared all breads, pizza doughs, pizza sauce, pasta doughs, pasta sauces, dressings and desserts for all locations. Bakers started at midnight and worked through the night so that the restaurants were able to offer their customers homemade products, with high consistency. This operation became essential in the future growth of the company.
The continually successful Hi-Way Pizza concept expanded yet again in 1980 to another full-service location on North Atherton Street.
1990 brought another change, when the two Hi-Way Pizza locations downtown were combined to create one larger location and made way for the newest Dante’s concept, Mario & Luigi’s. Mario’s brought traditional Italian pastas and entrees in a casual, fun setting that both students and locals fell in love with. It’s success led to a second location on the burgeoning North end of town on Atherton Street.
Never far from the pulse of the industry, Crowbar was opened in 1994, becoming the stop for many of the nation’s top musical acts. It’s stage hosted such artists as Kid Rock, Marilyn Manson, Live, Henry Rollins, GWAR, sister Hazel, Tone-Loc and many more. A 90’s themed grunge live music venue, Crowbar was home to the areas hottest acts as well as it’s blockbuster shows.
Never one to slow down, Andy’s next concept, Mio Zio, brought the Italian cafe concept to State College. Opening it’s doors in 2000 as a counter-style service, self-seating restaurant, it offered pizza by the slice, pasta, chopped salads, sandwiches and made-to-order crepes. It’s outdoor seating along College Avenue, complemented the open air feel and fun atmosphere.
Continually venturing into new culinary worlds, Andy’s next stop would take Dante’s through America’s heartland. Through extensive research, travel, eating and an intensive 4 day BBQ school, Kansas City barbeque was decided upon as the model for Dante’s next restaurant opened in 2002, Beulah’s BBQ & bar bleu. Refined in 2009 and focused as just bar bleu Sports Lounge and Liquor bar, both floors have become downtown State College’s premier location to take in all the night’s sports action. Live blues, funk and rock & roll that can still be found on the downstairs stage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
2008 Dante’s tweaked its popular Hi-Way Pizza concept, by opening Inferno Brick Oven & Bar in the heart of downtown State College. Inferno boasts a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere featuring a specialty cocktail menu, contemporary Italian dishes and gourmet Neapolitan brick-oven pizza. A full-service bar features a tasteful .
Ever evolving, 2010 saw changes to several locations, both in concept and interior decor. Refining and updating the 40 year concept of The Deli was the first focus. In a bold move, 32 additional draft towers were added to add a unique element of American Craft Beer to The Deli’s already established American Kitchen concept. This proved to be popular and set the stage for Dante’s newest location, The Hopshop Beer Market.
Opened in March 2011, The Hopshop Beer Market is a take-out beer boutique highlighting American Craft Beer. With 21 cold doors, and over 500 selections, it has become a beer drinker’s destination. Located directly under The Deli, it’s focus is a complement to the offerings at The Deli’s Z Bar, and offers a place for them to “take it home with them” after enjoying a brew with dinner. Unique to the area, The Hopshop also offers Growler fills from a specially designed and installed draft tower.
With almost 50 years in the hospitality industry, Dante’s Restaurants success can be attributed to a commitment to the basics—great food and great service. Running restaurants well, with an attention to detail combined with creative concepts has enabled Dante’s to continue to grow. And as Andy would say “And a lot of hard work.”