The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

History

July 11, 2014

Rastrelli's restaurant a cornerstone in Lyons District

Pete Rastrelli (1900-1966) came here to work for Marcucci’s as a candy maker in 1926 after learning the trade at businesses like Curtis Candy Co. in Chicago.

In Clinton, he met and married a nursing student named Ida Baldacci. Ida was an orphan from Chicago, (raised in Sterling, Illinois, by her Aunt Emma), who moved here to attend nursing school at Mercy Hospital. She worked many years as a nurse and was a homemaker before entering into the family business which, ultimately, located on Main Avenue.

Ida first met Pete in 1930. She cared for him when he was hospitalized for a week with tonsillitis, and they fell in love. Their first date was a long ride to see friends in his 1929 Buick Coupe.

Pete had grown up one of 10 children living in northern Italy’s Tuscany region, near Florence. One of his four brothers died in WWI. Perhaps that, plus his two sisters’ emigration to America, was what prompted Pete and three of his brothers to emigrate in 1918. Here, he became good friends with the Marcucci’s, especially Tony, whose death would greatly trouble Pete — perhaps causing him to move on again.

By 1939, Pete Rastrelli had partnered with Amos “Curly” Pollastrini at The Revere Hotel’s famous confectionery shop on Second Street and Fourth Avenue South. They were all skilled in the food business, and could make anything from ornate candies and ice cream, to specialty dishes.

I recall first meeting Pete at The Revere’s back door on Fourth Avenue. He’d speak to me and give me soft ice cream. That must have been about 1944, when I was just a tyke on a trike. I do remember how loveable and friendly he was and what a treat that pre-frozen ice cream was.

Pete bought out the Pollastrini’s in 1949; however, shortly thereafter, his landlord would sell the Revere Hotel block to National Tea Co. (to be razed, for a supermarket), which left Pete and Ida scrambling for a new site. They found a small empty storefront, initially just for storage, at 238 Main Avenue. But then, City Nat’l. Bank’s Bruce Townsend approved a loan to, “Put that equipment to work.” — Therefore, Rastrelli’s Revere Candy Shop opened for business there in the fall of 1950.

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