New ownership for Mamma Susanna’s

Mama Susanna'sReader Eric emails some potential bad news:

Our much beloved Mamma Susanna’s Italian Ristorante in River Park is changing owners in mid Dec. New chef, new staff members, but apparently, the current owners are cross-training the new owners and “it won’t change too much.” I’ve got to be positive about this, but it’s my favorite restaurant, it’s in my neighborhood, and I’m resisting change!

Eric also reports the servers seemed “unenthusiastic” about the change. I think you should stay positive, Eric, it doesn’t seem like they would go through with cross-training if they weren’t serious about keeping things copacetic, but that could also be a clever ploy: “Sure sure, cross training, let’s do this.” And then they open an oyster bar. Is this helping, Eric? 🙂

Me, I haven’t been to that location since it it was Paradise Pizza. But it looks cute!

Sampino Towne Foods: The Extra “E” is for “Excellent”

Bill Sampino knows what he’s doing. After 17 years at David Berkley, he could do this in his sleep. If an individual could have the specialty foods business running his veins without his blood turning to cherry tomato compote, then Bill Sampino would. Opened a little over a year ago in a dismally unprepossessing shopping strip on 16th Street, Sampino’s Towne Foods is a realized gem along an otherwise confused corridor. Specializing in Italian meats, sandwiches, hot foods, and sundries, the store is a retirement project for Bill, who runs the shop with his son. And for a retirement project, it’s a pretty fleshed out operation. Other than the limited hours (10-4, six days a week), there doesn’t appear to be any corner-cutting going on at Sampino’s. And, if anything, the limited hours allow Bill & Co. to produce small batches of hand-made, top-quality food. Continue reading “Sampino Towne Foods: The Extra “E” is for “Excellent””

Pronto- Farmer’s Market in a Bowel [sic]

Despite its insistence on using a grammatically flawed slogan, “Real Italian, Real Fast,” Pronto continues to deliver top-notch luncheon fare.   Today’s meal was the “Farmer’s Market” salad.  Mixed greens, arugula, corn, cornbread croutons, avocado, dates, almonds, goat cheese, and a citrus tarragon dressing.  Sweet, savory, crunchy and crispy.  This very well might be my favorite salad ever.  Continue reading “Pronto- Farmer’s Market in a Bowel [sic]”

J Street Sidewalk Pizza gone

UPDATE: 7:12 pm – My wife informs me that I misinterpreted her IM earlier, and that the change is official at the location formerly known as Sidewalk Pizza. It’s a taqueria. Sniff. Mmmm, tacos…

I had recently seen what I assumed was a facelift in process at Sidewalk Pizza on Jay street. My wife passed by the spot earlier today and reports that actually what’s going on is that the location is changing over to a Mexican restaurant. Pizza is one of those things — like burgers — that one person can be in love with, and the next guy absolutely hates. Sidewalk on Jay was one of my absolute favorite pies. I’m sad to see it go.

Interesting discussion about this at Yelp… speculation that it was going to be part of the La Fiesta/La Favorita enterprise, accusations of blindsiding the staff. It never seemed like business was very good at Sidewalk but it always seemed like a good location for eats. Plus as my wife just pointed out, it’s hard to complain about another Mexican joint.

Eat like a mob boss

Maybe I’m just too big a fan of “The Sopranos,” but when I noticed baked ziti on the menu board at Cafe Milazzo, I just had to go for it. I could just hear Carmella telling Tony, “there’s some ziti in the ‘fridge,” and him grunting in reply.(Small and weird aside: One of the characters in “The Sopranos” sports a version of one of the names in la mia familia. My cousins can’t decide whether to be happy or horrified at this.)

Or maybe it wasn’t “The Sopranos” at all, but me just jonesing for the way Nonna used to make it. And the ziti? Perfect, with lots of gooey Mozarella and a tangy tomato bite. Better than Nonna’s, really, but probably not better than Carmella’s.

Family style eats at Giusti’s Place

Giusti's Place
Casual family dining
at Giusti’s Place

My sister was married last weekend in the romantic Sacramento river delta. As part of the weekend festivities a big group of us headed over to Giusti’s Place, a family-run restaurant on the river in Walnut Grove that has been serving casual family-style Italian since 1910, making it the oldest bar and restaurant on the delta. Giusti’s is located in a rickety, cobbled together building propped up on a riverbank, and the atmosphere inside is of your typical bar and grill. The bar’s notable feature is that the ceiling is covered with hats (and apparently the inside is covered with cool dudes).

Continue reading “Family style eats at Giusti’s Place”

Italian Roundup

If you don’t like Italian food, you’re probably not an American. Whether it’s pizza or pasta, raviolis or rigatoni, Italian food is tops in most Americans’ food preferences. Italian food restaurants are in every city and every state, offering high carb goodness that can’t be beat. Beware, though, the Italian restaurant that fools you with inferior sauces and horrible, soggy pastas. A simple moustache and overweight accordion player will not make up for tough meat and lousy service. My favorite Italian joint, Bravo, recently closed its doors, leaving me in search of a new haunt. What I came up with is a few hits and a lot of misses:
Continue reading “Italian Roundup”