The new Giuseppe’s in Montrose hits all the right notes. The owners transformed the interior of the old DaFranco’s Italian restaurant to reflect what the Montrose community is all about — family, friends and conversation. They kept the quaint brick-lined coves and wine-barrel motifs, but added long wooden tables, giant mirrors and warm lighting. They also added good, modern, affordable Italian fare.
Owner Michelle Capozzoli is the daughter of Bob and Patricia Capozzoli, proprietors of the former Giuseppe’s in Glendale, so Italian food is in her blood. She and her partners, Anthony Santillo and Alex Venneri, are committed to using fresh and homemade ingredients. At Giuseppe’s, the marinara is homemade, the meatballs and sausages are homemade, the salad dressings are homemade and all the breads and crusts are made fresh daily. Our waitress told us they’ve been known to put a sign on the door saying “closed for two hours” so they could let fresh pizza dough rise. That’s fresh.
The menu is very simple. First off, there are a few appetizers, including the ever-popular and diet-sabotaging basket of garlic balls ($5.95), deep-fried bread balls rolled in something fabulously garlicky and covered in Alfredo sauce. Next, there is but one salad (it goes well with everything, so why mess with perfection?), an antipasto-like mixture of Romaine, garbanzos, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, pepperoncini, salami and mozzarella ($6.95). Ask for both the ranch and the Italian dressings. Both are great and they taste great together.
Then you face a choice—pizza, pasta or a sandwich? The pizzas come in sizes medium ($10.50 plus 75 cents per topping) and large ($12.50 plus $1 per topping). What makes these pies stand out are the fresh toppings and the hand-tossed crust. I only tried one pizza, with mushrooms, basil, onions and tomatoes, so I feel a little unfair saying this, but it was kind of dull.
We deduced that the sauce needed more complexity and the cheese lacked mellowness. We found the same to be true of the much-touted meatball sandwich ($7.95). The meatballs had a wonderful size and texture, but they were made with less-than-flavorful meat and seemingly devoid of herbs, spices and salt. The roll they come on is fragrant, however, with a beautiful glossy top.
The sandwich I prefer (actually, it’s on the appetizer menu) is called the Mad Cap ($6.95). Here, homemade sausage with an aromatic hint of aniseed combines with bell peppers, sweet onions and gooey cheese in a crusty, thin, pizza-dough pocket — it’s like a calzone, but much less doughy. It comes with a bowl of marinara imbued with hot red-pepper flakes.
Fairly priced draft beer and wine ($4 to $5), refillable soft drinks ($1.85), and two kids’ menu items (cheese pizza and buttered pasta) cement Giuseppe’s as a community and family destination. On one of my visits, there were two youth sports teams there. It was kind of loud (acoustic ceilings, anyone?) but between the community spirit, the friendly wait staff and the good, wholesome food, it brought to mind my affection for our little town of Montrose. Giuseppe’s fits right in.
Lisa Dupuy has been reviewing area restaurants since 2008. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.
Where: 2428 Honolulu Ave., Montrose
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Appetizers and salad, $5.95 to $7.95; pizzas $10.50 and $12.50 for cheese pizza and any toppings are extra; sandwiches and pastas, $7.95 to $8.95
Contact: (818) 957-1313