Sheri Rabanal did not plan to open a restaurant as soon as she graduated college. She planned to work at a restaurant, gaining experience until she took the leap. It was her parents’ insistence that she should not put off her dreams that led her to opening Taglia Fresh Italian in September.

“The support of my family made it the right moment,” Rabanal said.

The restaurant serves Italian food—all freshly made, including the restaurant’s bread and pasta, with produce delivered to the restaurant daily. Rabanal believes this sets her restaurant apart from other Italian restaurants, even though freshly made, simple dishes are a hallmark of Italian cooking, she said.

“The simplicity makes it beautiful; it makes it better,” she said.

Rabanal’s recipes are a mix of her own ideas as well as recipes from her uncle’s pizzerias in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and from her mother.

While Rabanal welcomes constructive criticism, she said one of the hardest things about being a new business owner is having people post harsh reviews online rather than speak to her personally. Rabanal, who is 23, said she has also faced criticism for being a young business owner, as well as being a woman in the industry.

“I think it’s just being young plus all of the ideas are my own,” Rabanal said.

Overall, Pearland native Rabanal said the community has been receptive to the restaurant.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better community to open it in,” she said.

Rabanal knew she wanted to move back to the Houston area after college, and research led her to believe Pearland would be the best community to open Taglia in.

“I mostly get, ‘I’m so glad it’s not another chain,’” Rabanal said.

Since opening for dinner in late September, the business started serving lunch in late November. Future plans include offering brunch, delivery and catering.

“The restaurant is a puzzle I am building, and not all the pieces are in yet,” Rabanal said.

So far, the best part of the business is being there for people’s special moments, such as birthdays, reunions, anniversaries and first dates, Rabanal said. It is also being there for the difficult moments. Rabanal said she had a customer come in who was having a bad day, and Taglia’s lasagna made it better.

“It’s being a part of people’s lives,” Rabanal said.

Rabanal is continuing to work hard and grow the business.

“You have to have a passion for it, and everything will follow,” she said.