Good recipes and hospitality – that’s what you’ll find at the Prego Pasta House Restaurant, 4930 Greenville, say owners and neighborhood natives Joe and Rose Barraco.
“This is a family restaurant, and we like to recognize everyone and give the personal attention of a mom-and-pop operation,” says Joe, who greets friends at the door, calling repeat customers by name.
“At least one family member stays here all the time to take that extra step.”
“Wherever possible, we offer customers the same food we would serve them at home on Sunday,” Rose says.
Rose plays a big part in shaping the menu, choosing recipes, experimenting and testing. Both Joe and Rose, who married at 19, have grocer-business backgrounds, which Rose says explains why they believe freshness is all important. Joe does the shopping three or four times each week and makes several batches of Italian sausage per week, using a 1964 recipe from his first grocery store, Barraco’s, on Bryan. Later, Joe moved Barraco’s to a larger location at Skillman and Oram, which he sold in the late 1970s. Prego opened in 1982.
At noon, Prego draws a work-force crowd that crosses Greenville from the Meadows Building and Energy Square. Joey, the couple’s middle son, manages the Greenville restaurant. Jimmy, their eldest son, manages the newer and larger Prego at Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. Tony, their youngest son, owns Prego Express in Plano.
All three boys attended St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School before going on to Jesuit High School, their father’s alma mater.
The restaurant offers a long menu, sausage and pizza (cooked and uncooked) on a takeout basis, and a catering service. But don’t ask for tofu, or anything that changes the integrity of an Italian dish.
“We stick to the classic Italian way of cooking,” Joe says. “We can leave out a few calories to accommodate a customer, but we try to work as close to the menu as possible. We want people to enjoy what we do best.”
Rose invites us to try her recipe for Tirami Su, which translates as “pick-me-up” due to the strong coffee in the dessert.