RIgatoni with pesto Genovese and chicken breast is topped with sun-dried...

RIgatoni with pesto Genovese and chicken breast is topped with sun-dried tomato at Steven's Pasta in Long Beach. Credit: Daniel Brennan

One of Long Beach’s longest-running restaurants has closed. Chef-partner Steven Guasco announced Tuesday he was shutting Steven’s Pasta.

“I’ve reached retirement age, 65,” he said. “But in restaurant years, I’m more like 110. I have loved this experience but I know there are other experiences to explore while I still have my health and I remain hungry.”

The decision to close the restaurant, which he opened in 1989, was bittersweet — but Guasco was definitely focused on the sweet. “Even though we are closing, it feels like a success. After 34 years, having people come in who I knew as children, and have them enjoying the food — I feel very fortunate.”

Guasco’s menu, his whole approach to cooking, came from his mother, Gilda. “She said, ‘Keep things simple and buy the best,’ ” he recalled. Steven’s did not offer a mix-and-match approach: Rigatoni came with the shrimp fra Diavolo, fettuccine with the Bolognese. “Some pasta shapes just go with some sauces,” he explained.

Every morning, he would come into the kitchen and make the day’s allotment of fresh mozzarella. Then he would turn his attention to the sauces so that they were made fresh daily and still benefit from a low, slow reduction.

Chef-partner Steven Guasco and co-owner Louis Corcione at the bar of Steven's Pasta...

Chef-partner Steven Guasco and co-owner Louis Corcione at the bar of Steven's Pasta in Long Beach in 2018. Credit: Daniel Brennan

In Newsday's 1989 review of Steven’s Pasta Specialties, then-critic Joan Reminick asked: “Why are we telling you about a 50-seat place where you may have to wait 20 minutes for a table (no reservations taken), and where main dishes are limited to pastas with pronounced Italian accents? Well, it's always nice to pass along good news, and this is not just another red sauce and spaghetti joint.”

Steven’s maintained that edge until a fire closed it 20 years later. In the meantime, Guasco and his partner, Louis Corcione, had opened another Long Beach restaurant, Fresco Creperie (2001) which spawned a second location in Williston Park in 2010. But the pull of pasta was too strong and, in May 2018, they reopened their pasta-centric eatery, now simply, Steven's Pasta, a few doors down from the original on Park Avenue. The new restaurant, formerly John Henry’s Pub, had a more upscale, intimate feel and, for the first time, a bar.

The hardest thing about reopening was Guasco’s fear that he would not be able to exactly duplicate the taste of his food, but that worry was dispelled that first night when he ventured into the dining room. “People said that the flavors were bringing them back in time,” he said.

In the end, his customers kept him going. “Chefs, we have egos that need to be fed,” he admitted. “So you come out into the dining room and you ask, ‘How is everything?’ and folks look up at you with that smile, they can’t even form English words. That’s how you get up the next day and start making the mozzarella again.”

Fresco Creperie in Long Beach has no plans to close; Guasco said that he and Corcione are there every day, and it does not require the same involvement that Steven’s did. The Williston Park location no longer belongs to them; they sold it to a former colleague, Tom Grippo, in 2020.

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