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Yarusso's: happy hour of the week

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Yarusso Bros.Italian Restaurant: 635 Payne Ave., St. Paul, 651.776.4848

When: Monday-Friday 3pm-6pm

Details: $2.75 beer, wine, and rail drinks, $1 off all other drinks, 1/2-price appetizers. Plus, Monday and Tuesday from 11am-9pm 1/2-price bottles of wine. Thursdays, free glass of wine at dinner.

Venue: An East Side St. Paul favorite since 1933, this family-owned Italian restaurant has been lovingly renovated after a devastating fire in February 2009. Yarusso's is the real deal--the pictures on the wall are of family members, longtime neighbors, and historic portraits of the neighborhood. The TVs behind the bar play all three Godfather movies simultaneously and continuously. And your bartender is named Tony. Hanging out at the bar, talking to the owners, is half the fun as they generously share their rich family history but refuse to share the secret ingredient in their glorious red sauce. Stay after happy hour on the first Wednesday of the month, 6-8 p.m., for Two-Wheel Wednesday, when hundreds of motorcyclists congregate in front of Yarusso's on Payne Avenue.

Verdict: Thumbs up, way up. Especially now with the patio open, it is time to celebrate their rebuilding by hanging out, enjoying a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail and chatting with new friends and old. The atmosphere of Yarusso's feels like someplace other than Minnesota, and that is the beauty of the East Side. The drinks are cold, the people are warm, and the appetizers are so delicious. Go with several friends and share a sampler platter: spicy ravioli, beef ravioli, Italian sausage, cheese toast, and your choice of fried eggplant sticks or cheese sticks, and that incredible sauce--a deal at the regular price of $13.50; at 1/2-price...what, are you crazy? You're giving it away! And also be sure to try the calamari--light, flavorful, and garnished with sauteed green pepper and fresh lemon.