Sitting in the dining area of his new Italian restaurant, Peter Ferrante said he doesn't need another job.
"This is about passion," he said.
His Sicilian accent seeped into every word as he explained what makes Valentino's special.
"Just another Italian restaurant -- that's not what I want to be," Ferrante said.
Valentino's opened Oct. 1 at 205 Pauline Drive in York Township, occupying the space previously used by Pomodoro's Italian Restaurant & Grill, which closed in May.
At more than 4,000 square feet, "the restaurant design is one of the best I've ever seen," he said.
Off the main dining area is an enclosed room that seats 40 people. It is open to customers on the weekends and can also be rented for special events.
An outdoor patio will open in the spring and offer Wi-Fi, he said.
Hot and cold cooking areas are separated, which helps prevent cross contamination, Ferrante said.
Other food preparation areas are also separated, he said.
His favorite feature: But Ferrante's favorite part of his new restaurant is the wood, brick oven.
"We use real wood, and that makes all the difference," he said.
Burning a cherry oak improves the flavor of the pizza and gives it an unmatched smokiness, Ferrante said.
His knowledge of Italian cooking began while he was growing up in Sicily, he said.
"My mother used to send me on my bike to the local produce stand to get eggplant, lettuce, herbs ... I was 8 and knew how to pick basil and get good produce," Ferrante said.
Imported ingredients: The majority of ingredients used at Valentino's are imported from Italy, he said.
"Italy is a magical place. It's in the air, the water, the sea, the soil. And wine -- Italy cannot make a bad wine," Ferrante said.
Valentino's, however, will not sell wine. The restaurant is a bring-your-own-bottle place that charges a cork fee, he said.
Instead, he said, the focus is on the food, which he uses to create a healthy, relaxing experience.
"I'm serving three-, four- and five-course, balanced meals in smaller, healthy portions that aren't served in a rush. When people come in in a rush, that bothers me. I want them to take time to have good food and enjoy a meal. It's a better lifestyle," Ferrante said.
His recipes also cut down on fat, sugar and sodium, he said.
"Our main fat is extra virgin olive oil. I don't need to cook with fat, sugar and salt. I cook with flavors," Ferrante said.
To learn more cooking skills, he and his daughter Adriana attended culinary school together, and both graduated in June.
Hoping to broaden the palate of customers, Ferrante said he will offer a chef's table at Valentino's. Guests will be able to "try new things" as he makes several surprise courses.
"I'll only ask two questions -- if they're allergic to anything and if there are any ingredients they don't like," he said. "The goal is to give them a memorable experience."
Valentino's hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are encouraged.
In addition to Valentino's, the Ferrante family also owns Messina Italian Restaurant in Stewartstown, Mama's Italian Restaurant in Wellsville and Piero's Pizza in Dillsburg.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@york dispatch.com.