Get ready to bring an appetite — and your passion for San Pedro’s rich history — to the port town’s historic waterfront.
Trani’s Dockside Station, San Pedro’s newest and much-anticipated restaurant, 311 E. 22nd St., is getting ready to throw open its doors to the public by month’s end, after hosting an invitation-only grand opening celebration Tuesday night, May 16.
“This is probably one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in San Pedro in the last 50 years,” said Dustin Trani, the acclaimed fourth-generation family chef who came up with the idea way back before the pandemic.
He probably isn’t exaggerating.
The restaurant, in a port town that cherishes its past, will adorn its walls with framed black-and-white history — the families, the people and the landmarks that so many have called home.
The grand opening party was thrown on what was the 98th anniversary of the opening of the original Trani’s Majestic Cafe that opened in 1925 in downtown San Pedro.
The new restaurant, near 22nd and Miner streets, is slated to open to the public sometime before the end of May. Watch the eatery’s Instagram account — tranisdocksidestation — for updates.
In an age when the port town is witnessing unprecedented change — from mid-rise buildings going up in the historic downtown to a new waterfront development on its way — Trani’s Dockside Station sits in a slice of the town that looks much the same as it has for the past century.
The gritty surroundings whisper of San Pedro’s past:
The port’s oldest warehouses and commercial fishing slips, along with the area’s wholesale fresh fish market, are steps away from the restaurant site. The 1918 building itself was once L.A.’s immigration station, where Japanese and other Pacific Rim newcomers arrived by boat to the United States.
The structure more recently housed another eclectic hometown diner, Canetti’s Seafood Grotto, which closed in 2010 after 70 years serving as a legendary gathering spot for fishermen, longshore workers and first responders who toiled around the clock, and were ready for a big breakfast and some local chatter.
It’s all documented in photographs that now adorn the walls of Trani’s Dockside Station, including a special tribute to Canetti’s and its owner, Joe, as one enters the restaurant.
There’s a “Joe Canetti’s” Oyster Bar and the old glass-and-metal tellers’ table saved and refurbished from San Pedro’s Bank of Italy, once a landmark in downtown San Pedro.
The front door also once belonged to Canetti’s Seafood Grotto.
Another external door leading to a side patio was the original from the building when it served local immigrants coming to San Pedro.
Some original wood beams were among items saved from the old Ports O’ Call Village.
The distinctive, curved bar top was salvaged from TC’s Cocktail Lounge, once branded as San Pedro’s “Cheers.” TC’s was torn down in 2017 to make room for a corner drive-thru Starbucks on the northeast corner of Gaffey and Ninth streets.
What was left went onto Craigslist, but the elegant bar top was offered to the Trani family.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do with it” back then, Trani said, so it sat in storage for four years until it found its new home at Trani’s Dockside Station.
Trani is the new generation chef in a family known for its long dining history in the port town. (Dustin Trani is the great-nephew of Phil Trani, the namesake of a popular and iconic restaurant in Long Beach.) He was looking for a sister restaurant site to J. Trani’s Ristorante, on Ninth Street near Grand Avenue, where he was the executive chef and co-owner.
He and his father, Jim, started talking about the project back in 2019. Gathering up a few partners — contractor Jack Logrande, Willy Carranza and Bill Albano — they were easily sold on the location for the planned upscale, casual restaurant that will specialize in coastal Italian and local, sustainable seafood entrees.
When the dockside property was made available for lease by the Port of Los Angeles, they jumped.
The new restaurant features an open-hearth kitchen, wood-burning fireplace, a raw fish bar, and fresh-caught seafood from the wholesale market next door every day. Trani will be joined in the kitchen by Zachary Morrison, executive sous.
There are outdoor patios and the menu will include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Subway tiles and other touches add to a historic but also contemporary look.
The location, which has a view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, seemed perfect, said Trani, who had scouted sites in Belmont Shore and some Long Beach coastal areas.
With the buzz of a new waterfront development coming San Pedro’s way — West Harbor development’s planned amphitheater will be just north of Trani’s Dockside; and AltaSea, an emerging marine research center in historic warehouses, abut the restaurant to the immediate south — the location won’t be in the shadows for long.