Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, Antonio and Virginia Pensabene came to America from Calabria, Italy. A very hardworking and industrious man, Antonio immediately opened a small business consisting of a billiard hall, a lunch counter, and a grocery store. The store was destroyed in a fire in 1934.
Prohibition had just ended and after the remodeling was completed the Tallman Cafe was born. It was located on the city's south side near the corner of Clinton and Tallman Street. A little over a decade later Antonio's eldest son, Dominick, known to his friends as Joe, returned to Syracuse from the European Theater of World War II and took over the family business.
In November 1946 "Joe" Pensabene and Ernestine Shetler were married. By that time the restaurant had become a social gathering place for the local neighborhood, and both our parents and grandmothers worked in the family business.
As the neighborhood started to change in the early '60s, Joe started to look for a business opportunity closer to his home in Camillus. In 1966 Joe and Ernestine sold the original restaurant and moved to the western suburbs. They bought Ted James Place on the corner of Milton Avenue and Onondaga Road.
At that time the property included a mobile home park, the restaurant, and a small convenience store. Grandma Pensabene still made her homemade sauce, meatballs and sausage, and they started to build a new family restaurant tradition.
Many changes have come along on "the corner" over the years – a barbershop, a grocery store, all had storefronts they shared with the restaurant. In 1985 the building was expanded and completely remodeled. At that time we added our surname and have since been known as "Pensabene's Park West."