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A historical building will soon be home to a historical family’s latest restaurant venture.
Trani’s Dockside was approved by Los Angeles port officials on Thursday for 311 E. 22nd St., in San Pedro.
Previously occupied by Canetti’s Seafood Grotto, the building is on San Pedro’s waterfront with approximately 4,448 square feet of interior space and 1,125 square feet of exterior patio. It was built about a century ago and was the city of LA’s immigration station.
The new Italian seafood restaurant will be led by Dustin Trani, executive chef and co-owner. The Trani family also partnered with contractor Jack Logrande, and longshoremen Willy Carranza and Billy Albano, for Trani’s Dockside. His father, Jim Trani Jr., has been spearheading the project, but the whole family is involved, particularly his uncle, John “Harpo” Trani.
Trani is a fourth-generation chef and his family has had restaurants in San Pedro for more than 90 years.
“It’s fitting for my family to go into something with such history,” Dustin Trani said during a phone interview with What Now Los Angeles on Friday.
His great grandfather, Filippo Trani, emigrated from Italy in 1913. He worked hard farming and fishing before he opened the Majestic Café in San Pedro in 1925. In 1937 his 13-year-old son, Jim, joined him at the Majestic Café in what would become the Trani culinary tradition; passed from father to son. More than 90 years later, the tradition continues at their current location J Trani’s, at 584 W 9th St., in San Pedro.
“This is going to be something really unique,” Trani said. “(With the history of the building) it has an aura about it. When you walk in you feel that building.”
As a chef and restauranter, you do what you love and this is what you do it for,” Trani said.
“It’s exciting to take on a new venture,” he added.
They hope to open Trani’s Dockside in early 2022, almost coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of the building.
Dockside will be culinary-driven, with high end food and an oyster bar. It’s located about 30 feet from the wholesale commercial seafood market where all the boats unload their catches, Trani said.
“It’s super, hyper local,” he said. “Literally hours out of the sea and we’ll have it in the restaurant.”
Since it’s a historical building, the exterior will remain intact and Trani is working with the San Pedro Bay Historical Society to ensure that they keep as much as possible.
“We want to leave everything as time correct as possible, and just reinvent the space a little bit,” Trani said.
They have some freedom on the interior design, which will include some other historical features. T C’s Cocktail Lounge, which opened in the 1940s as the Mirror Room, had a legendary serpentine bar top. The Lounge closed a few years ago and Trani was able to secure the bar top before the building was tore down. They are repurposing for Trani’s Dockside.
“T C’s was the Cheer’s of San Pedro,” Trani said. “Everyone remembers that iconic bar top… Now they’re going to be able to have a drink at the same bar again.”
Another historical feature of the new restaurant will be an old bank table from the Bank of Italy (which became Bank of America) in San Pedro. It’s a 1,600-cast bronze table that was made in the late 1800s, Trani said. It’s on loan from the Historical Society and will be used as a table at Dockside.
“There are a lot of elements of history that we’re tying into the design,” Trani said.
The industrial and art deco design will feel comfortable. It will have a huge, sprawling kitchen and a 16-foot bar will with oysters, crab, lobster, and whatever else is coming in locally.
The menu will be simple and amazing. Dishes will feature high quality food with accompanying sauces.
The best advice in the kitchen, “Keep it simple, stupid,” Trani joked. Let the food speak for itself.
His brother, Jimmy, is a wine specialist with Southern Wine & Spirits. He’ll be helping with the pairings, wine list, and specialty cocktails.
Dockside will be entirely different from J. Trani’s, he confirmed.
While J. Trani’s has a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere with Frank Sinatra playing in the background, Trani said.
Trani’s Dockside will be livelier and fun, he said.
J. Trani’s menu is Italian based with global influences, while Trani’s Dockside will be coastal cuisine with 80 percent of it a raw bar. There will be meat on the menu as well, Trani confirmed, so there’s something for everyone.
Dockside will be breakfast, lunch and dinner, Trani confirmed. Fishermen would often go to Canetti’s for breakfast, so they want to revive that tradition, he said.
They’re also hoping the lounge at Dockside will be open late and feature live music. Development in the area has really increased the night life, Trani said, and Dockside will fit in with that atmosphere.
“It’s going to be a happening place for sure,” he said.