For almost 20 years, Giuseppe’s restaurants have been known throughout the Central Coast—and beyond—for great wine and Italian food. Giuseppe’s Ristorante in Pismo Beach, California was found in 1988 as a senior project endeavor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for Giuseppe Difronzo. Years later, he opened a location in downtown San Luis Obispo as well. Luckily, I was able to experience the San Luis Obispo location this New Year’s Eve.
Giuseppe’s Italian regional specialties are indigenous to the Pugliese region in Italy, particularly Bari, a seaport on the Adriatic Sea. This where most of the recipes originate, all of which are prepared with genuine and natural ingredients and methods.
Giuseppe’s bread is baked from scratch every day in a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Each loaf is made by hand, allowed to rise four times and slow-cooked to achieve the truly rustic appearance and taste you would find in a Baresi seaside village. Wood-firing also gives the restaurant’s pizzas a delicious gourmet flavor. The pastas, with their full nutty flavor and al dente qualities, are either made on restaurant premises or are imported from Italy. They also use only the finest ingredients including virgin olive oil on their tables and in their sauces, local produce from farmer’s markets and fresh fish delivered to their back door from local waters. They feature imported Pecorino Romano, Grana Parmigiano, imported porcini mushrooms, and the best meats, olives and fine wines available, all in an effort to bring the classic taste of the Italian countryside to their patrons’ dining table. What they do is an art and a labor of love, committed to bringing visitors “cucina genuina.”
My experience was no less than full of the authenticity Giuseppe promises. Fiddlehead Pinor Noir from Lompoc, California—perfection. Salad Caprese with local vine ripe tomatoes, hand-made mozzarella, toasted coriander, and fresh basil—heavenly. And then the entrée. I ordered a beautifully crusted halibut dish, while my boyfriend went for the Cioppino. When the Cioppino arrived, it was dressed with two-large king crab legs, mussels, calamari, shrimp and other gorgeous gems from the sea. It was so magnificent, that it could have been the centerpiece! The color and aroma of the sauce had both of us in awe. An Italian, born and raised in New York, my boyfriend knows a thing or two about Cioppino. And I must say, I don’t recall him saying anything during the entrée portion of our meal than, “Oh my gosh, do you believe this!? Do you see these king crab legs? Mmm…best sauce ever! Best meal ever!”, over and over again. He actually said it so many times that I encouraged him to give his compliments to the chef. Which he finally agreed.
It was then that Chef Richard came out, with his smiling face and intriguing tattoos, and explained to us that he had been perfecting the Cioppino recipe for eight years now. The guys went on and had a mutual love fest over the recipe’s details and then an East meets West showdown over dessert. The menu claims that Chef Richard makes the best cannoli on the West Coast. Chef Richard was so confident that this was true, that he brought us one out to prove it. Over a couple of double espressos, we decided that he may be in a close tie with Dominick’s cannoli in Granite Bay, California, but no one beats DeRobertis’ canolli in the East Village of NYC.
Chef Richard’s Cioppino was so incredible that we requested to feature his talent in my food memoir, The All American Cookbook: A Collection of America’s Favorite Restaurant and Family Recipes. Chef Richard enthusiastically agreed and has provided the recipe we will feature. Take our advice, visit the Palazzo Giuseppe if you are ever on the Central Coast! Enjoying dinner there certainly was the perfect way to ring in 2009.