Located in Bozeman on the corner of Main and Rouse, Tarantino’s Pizzeria has been a downtown tradition for over a decade. In March of 2019, Shane Cartularo bought Tarantino’s to run it alongside his girlfriend Danielle and his brother Sevie, making it a family affair for this third-generation restaurateur. Along with the purchase of this established pizzeria came the desire and the vision to implement new traditions and expand the offerings at this popular eatery. His drive to bring a fresh approach to Tarantino’s was apparent when I sat down to talk to Shane about the restaurant. Excited, creative, contemplative and energetic are words that best describe Shane and the chat we had about the vision he is creating with the crew at Tarantino’s. He shared with me what he has learned, both positive and negative, about the experience of running this establishment over the past several months in the midst of the burgeoning and ever-changing local food scene.
Kathleen Johns: How was Tarantino’s conceptualized?
Shane Cartularo: Tarantino’s has been in Bozeman for over twelve years. I am the fourth owner. Everybody knows Tarantino’s is THE place to go to get a quick slice whether for lunch or late night. Tarantino’s has a reputation of being a place where you can come in and grab a quick bite in less than a minute and head out. As the new owner, I am expanding the concept of a place to grab a quick and solid slice of New York-style pizza by adding more offerings to our menus and expanded hours for late night on the weekends. Of course we offer delivery, takeout and online ordering options too. We also offer a customer loyalty discount program.
KJ: What makes Tarantino’s unique on the Bozeman food scene?
SC: The most unique aspects of Tarantino’s are our location and our hours. We are located next to some of the greatest bars in Downtown Bozeman. 317 and Pourhouse have been here forever. We are in the same building, so people don’t even have to leave the bar. Not to mention the other legendary bars on the block that are only a few doors down. We have a beautiful location. We are also on the way to Bridger Bowl. We have people coming in both before and after they hit the mountain, which is great.
Our hours of operation make us a standout, too. Often we are the only place open for late night food. We are open until 3 a.m. on weekends (Friday and Saturday) and during the summertime for Music on Main, we are open late as well.
Another thing that makes us unique is that Tarantino’s is the only pizzeria in Bozeman that makes a true New York-style pizza served by the slice. There is a lot of pizza out there, but we focus on that Manhattan style, New York style, cheap, big, one slice or two slices, even if it is just a pepperoni or a cheese. A New York-style pizza has to have a bite to it but be soft; at the same time, it has to have a crunch to it. You can fold it and there will be nothing drooping. It is a nice solid piece. Our pizza has that. We use as much local food as we can and source the best quality ingredients available to us. The biggest thing, the most prized ingredient though, is the time and the love that we put into the food. That makes it what it is going to be, really.
KJ: What do you want people to experience when they walk through your doors?
SC: Tarantino’s staff is super laid back, personable, easy to approach. We talk to our customers, ask them how their day is going. We get a lot of people in here that are going out downtown at night, and we talk to them about what’s going on, what they’re doing. We always have great music playing and we are open to playing different types of music if our customers want that. Our atmosphere is very chill and not stuffy. People can come in here and stay in here and relax for lunch break or dinner or talk to us while we work, listen to music, dance. Just be themselves and enjoy. We want them to feel welcome. We want them to feel like family.
When my parents heard we were thinking of buying Tarantino’s, they said, “Well, it is in your blood and we know that you will do a good job with it.” My grandfather started a pizzeria in the early 1970s in Shelburne, Vermont. When my Dad was a teenager, he started working there, eventually taking over the restaurant, but my Grandfather would still come in every morning and work with my Dad and my Mom and me and my brother. A super vivid memory for me was that the restaurant had a marble counter top that we would cut pizzas on, weigh the dough, and let the dough rest on it. I remember standing on a milk crate to reach the counter. I was pretty young. I was six or maybe eight years old, and my Grandpa was teaching me how to roll out dough, how to weigh it, how to mix it. Working with family can certainly be tough at times, but when you work with family, they want what is best for you and you want what is best for them. There is a mutually shared movement to go forward with a shared goal. We are not just a team. We are a family. My girlfriend and I, we met in San Diego and we have been inseparable ever since, working several jobs together before buying Tarantino’s. Me and my brother Sevie we grew up in the industry together. I know his skills and what he can do. It is great to have them both here. If I were doing this alone I would be in the dark without them. We bounce ideas off each other; we can see what works and what doesn’t. We are moving forward and working and learning together. Tarantino’s is a family and we want our customers to experience that family feeling too.
KJ: What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Bozeman community?
SC: The people! I originally moved to Bozeman from Vermont at the age of eighteen to go to MSU and obtain my degree in Sustainable Food and Bioenergy. After graduation, I traveled around working in various kitchens and ultimately found myself pulled back to this place and the unique people that live here. There is not a town like Bozeman anywhere else with this same sense of community. It is so much fun to see people come in here with their families after a day of skiing with their snow gear on still and enjoy a meal together or to have a group of people partying downtown come in for a late night snack, singing and dancing and just having fun. That is what makes this whole thing work; it could be located anywhere else but it is the people of Bozeman that makes Tarantino’s really work.
KJ: What is your most popular dish or what do your regulars keep coming back for?
SC: Pepperoni Pizza is our most popular. Everyone loves a slice of pepperoni. Everyday, we do two or three pizza specials that are not on our regular menu that are also very popular. We offer vegetarian options. We are doing more salads, bread sticks, chicken wings. Pizza specials change daily with toppings like Korean BBQ, Five Cheese and Chicken Enchilada. We roast all of our vegetables in our open flame oven. We have a “Wing of the Week” that is always changing whether we are making our own hot sauce or buying one locally. We recently used a hot sauce from Montgomery Distillery in Missoula and it was awesome. We have cookies, too. We are always switching things up while maintaining a quality product. No matter how many changes we make here and no matter how many renovations this place goes through, the pizza will always stay the same, if not better as we increase quality.
KJ: Do you have anything coming up that you want readers to know about?
SC: In the past, Tarantino’s wasn’t a hugely popular place to get lunch. What we want to do now is open it up to the public for lunchtime. Especially with all the businesses on Main Street, the offices, the banks, the shops, they all usually have a lunch break. Our idea is to bring people in with our super cool vibe. You can come in and have a quick bite or you can take your time, hang out and listen to music and talk with us. You don’t have to go out of the downtown area to get lunch and rush back to work. Check out our Instagram. @BozemanPizza. We are always posting what we are offering daily. We have been talking about the possibility of adding a pizza-making class for kids. Making pizza was an awesome memory for me as a kid. Watching the kids eat the pizza that they have made and hearing them say “I made this” is incredible.