Fifteen years ago, Jeannie Terilli flipped a coin. It landed heads side up, so she opened Terilli’s, the “fun” (as christened by the owner) Italian bistro on Lower Greenville that was held tenaciously onto its loyal neighborhood following with fresh pastas, salads, sandwiches and live jazz.

“I had Cardinal Puffs before,” Terilli says. “And I sold it and decided to go into the landscaping business. After breaking my nails and digging big holes in the heat for awhile, I decided I knew the restaurant business better.”

Whatever its chance beginnings, Terilli’s has all the earmarks of a well-planned venture. Expansive corner and cozy side booths surround linen-draped tables in a low-key black and turquoise deco/tech setting, a décor that has remained intact for the duration without feeling dated or worn.

“I’m really into maintenance and consistency – I think those are important factors in longevity. Maintain quality,” Terilli says.

The menu is a manageable size that still offers plenty of culinary variety. From build-your-own-pastas to a delectable tomato mozzarella sandwich to tender calamari, the food remains dependable, year in and year out. The prices, too, have held the line.

“In the mid ’80s, the economy was kind of…’shifting’ at that time,” laughs Terilli. “And the high-end restaurants were having a little bit of trouble – I knew we needed to be moderately priced.”

So next time you’re hungry and in the mood to eat out, flip a coin – it’ll help you decide between Terilli’s angel hair pasta with white clam sauce or the Caesar salad. Or just pocket your change and have both.




Terilli’s Walnut Salad

A refreshing summer favorite

1 bunch arugula

1 radicchio lettuce

3 oz. Texas goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup fresh strawberries, sliced

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup chives


(makes 3 cups)

1 cup walnut oil

2 cups peanut oil

6 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

Juice of two lemons

2 Tbs. roasted walnuts

Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in the blender; blend well and refrigerate. Place radicchio around edge of plate. Place arugula around edge of plate. Top with strawberries, walnuts, crumbled goat cheese and chives.

Pour walnut vinaigrette over the salad and serve chilled.