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Giuseppe’s Ritrovo - Truly Needful Things

2268 E. Main St. Columbus, OH 43209 (614) 235-4300

Next time you are in Perugia, take the tiny little train into the mountain. There’s a village there. The name starts with a “T”. The only thing to do in this “T-named” village is eat at the only restaurant in town. This is not meant as a metaphor, like one might expect the corporate copywriters at Appleback Steakhouse to come up with. This particular “T-named” village only has one restaurant.

The unique and fortunate outcome of “T” town’s restaurant scarcity is that it is always full of friends and neighbors, enjoying food, wine and each other. Inside that restaurant, it feels like there is nothing else in the world to do but eat. That may actually be the case in this exemplary ristorante’s Podunk, little, Italian backwater, but not so in Bexley, especially since it abuts Columbus, which might as well be Los Angeles with all the stuff it has to offer these days. Yet somehow Giuseppe’s, especially since its recent renovation, make’s us forget about everything except for our friends, our neighbors and our food.

If you’ve never done it before, play a game of “trust the chef” for your visit to Giuseppe’s. Just tell Giuseppe how hungry you are and let him do the rest. Under-exaggerate your hunger. Giuseppe’s Italian.

The first course will likely consist of a medley of cured and thinly-sliced meats, fresh cheeses, roasted vegetables, and, of course, olive oils. The amount of sun trapped in a Sicilian white, like Planeta’s Segreta Bianco, ought to help it stand up to the Bresola, Prosciutto Crudo, sharp Provelone and Parmigianno. An Orvietto would put some acid to work on the fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and marinated artichoke hearts. Whichever white you go with can be completely consumed with the first course, because Giuseppe’s list is chock full of reds, from light Chianti Classicos to inky Amarones and leathery Barolos, so pairing something with subsequent courses should be child’s play.

Chiantis and pastas have loved each other longer than Romeo and Juliet (or any other hyper-clichéd star-crossed lovers), and Giuseppe’s has Felsina’ Classico Riserva from ’97. However, once a ’97 Chianti Classico Riserva is opened and set upon the table all pairing rules go out the window. Absolutely everything goes with a ’97 Riserva. So, make sure to get some Linguine Vongole, even if you want it in the comfortable white sauce more than the bolder red one. Giuseppe probably already had that planned, anyhow, but, as long as you are making sure to get certain things, ask him to include some Risotto di Mare with the pasta course.

It could prove to be extraordinarily difficult to eliminate enough of the big reds from contention for the “entrée bottle” position. The tannic, spicy allure of a Super Tuscan might make it a shoe-in for Veal Pizzaiuola’s wing man. However, a cogent argument could be made in favor of a Gaja Brunello to go head-to-head with Pizzaiuola’s capers and Kalamatas. The latter could easily segue between veal, chicken and even lamb, but, then again, so could their Barbaresco. Actually, Sartori’s Amarone, Foradori’s Teroldego or Montepergoli’s Rhone-ish blend could do likewise. An extraordinarily difficult task thus confirmed.

Don’t stew over it. If it becomes necessary, just let Giuseppe choose. That way you can concentrate on the friends, neighbors and food more completely. Perhaps concentration isn’t actually involved. Maybe it is more of a Zen-like release of consciousness. Don’t think, just eat… Oh yeah, and drink. There is still plenty of Pollo Paillard left, and it ought to be a no-brainer that the already thinly-pounded chicken breast could easily be cut into succulent strips that could then be eaten with the fingers and even used as a prop to increase the visual spectacle of the already overboard gesticulations that accompany conversations about religion or politics or whatever else it is that you are not supposed to talk about over dinner with polite company, but found yourself loudly debating over with the next table when you lost yourself in Giuseppe’s. The same cannot be said of the Fettuccine Calabrese. It should be eaten with utensils, but that will give you a chance to sit down and collect yourself before dessert comes.

Treat the dessert course like Neitzsche does Zarathustra and conquer it.. Miss not the opportunity to endulge in the Tiramisu. Then, when you and the next table over have polished off whatever was left of the red or reds that you finally settled on, get a Sambuca. Not only will it make the last few bites of sweets that much sweeter, it will also help you digest – your food, communal wisdom and experience.