Giuseppe Cucina Rustica’s grand opening; a switch from classical to modern dining.

There is no doubt that San Luis Obispo is a quaint little town full of Italian heritage and wonderful Italian food.

If you are looking for fine Italian dining, it is not hard to find what your looking for with the grand opening of Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica.

Giuseppe’s restaurant moved from the Palazzo in downtown SLO to 949 Monterey street. They also modified the name of the restaurant to better fit the new overarching theme.

I had the opportunity to sit down and speak to the owner’s son, Giuseppe Di Fronzo. I asked him why they chose to switch buildings. “Our old place was nice, but that style isn’t going to be popular forever. We needed a change. We needed to up our game. My father has always dreamed of having this building, and finally he has achieved that dream”, he said.

Giuseppe told me the happy and charming aura that the building has always had historically, is a major attraction. He is extremely proud of the high white ceilings, family portraits, beautiful chandeliers and the cast iron ceilings, which to my surprise turns out to be one of nine cast iron ceilings that are still in place.

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“It is incredibly open and airy. This is what happens when modern meets classic”, he added.

Due to the switch of buildings, one could inevitably expect a switch in crowd, but Giuseppe told me that they gets a lot of the regular people with a few new ones here and there, but mostly he just notices, ” A crowd. A big one.”

Along with the building change, the menu has changed a bit as well. They have added many new and more traditional items to the menu. Giuseppe’s father also now has his dream of having his own pasta maker in house. He describes the pasta being cooked to perfection by al dente, the perfect firmness. “It is a major change for our menu. It is real authentic Italian noodles.  It has become another major attraction at our new location”, he told me.

The menu is relatively inexpensive and if you are not familiar with Italian cuisine, helpful descriptions and tips are embedded in the menu to help you navigate. Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica also has numerous vegetarian options and if you have small children, ordering an authentic cheese pizza or butter pasta is always a big hit.

One of the new items is called the, “Mama’s salad”. It consists of arugula, cucumber, tomato, iceberg and endives. “It just looks something my grandma used to fix up at home. Simple and tasteful.” He mentioned. Giuseppe gave me this salad when I left and it was incredibly flavorful and fresh.

Another popular new menu item is on the Antipasti list, called the “Mediterranean Octopus ‘alla Barese'” Giuseppe is rather proud about the popularity of the dish. “I feel like a couple years ago this dish would not have sold, but now people love it and it is extremely popular. It is one of those dishes that really brings me home.”

Giuseppe also stated that since they now have this new location up and running they can now work on fixing the burned down restaurant in Pismo.

If you are in need of having a fine Italian dinner, do not hesitate to check of Giuseppe’s menu and head to their new and improved location downtown.

 

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Insight into the healthy ‘kick’ in butternut squash

As the weather starts to cool off and running noses and sore throats become all too common, soups become one of the most appealing foods.

When the squash season starts to come to an end, its the perfect time to incorporate a multitude of wonderful, ripe squash vegetables into your daily whole made soups.

Butternut squash in particular, is raved about for its wholesome, as well as filling characteristics. In addition to a soup base, it can also be used as a ravioli filing or as a squash casserole.

As it pertains to soups, Deborah Mele, Italian cook and author of Italian Food Forever, has really nailed the perfect butternut squash soup recipe. I recently made this soup and I must say the flavor way phenomenal. From the sage to the drizzle of yogurt, the flavors could be tasted in every spoonful.

“This soup is also low in fat as only a little heart-healthy olive oil is used, and the soup gets its thick, creamy texture from the sweet potatoes rather than heavy cream.” adds Deborah.

If you are battling allergies or asthma, butternut squash is also rich in vitamins and minerals to improve immunity through the cold winter months. According to Medical News Today, butternut squash contains an antioxidant known as Beta-Carotene which acts as a protective shield to the body, preventing free-radicals from getting into our systems. What could be better way to kick that stubborn cold?

I had the opportunity to speak with Nathan Tarentino, owner of Italian restaurant and cuisine, Centanove. When I asked him about the popularity of his butternut squash raviolis, he answered in excitement, “There is not an item on the menu that sells at the rate that my butternut squash raviolis do. Once you start eating them, it becomes an addiction almost. You are tasting so many different spices and flavors all at once, engulfed in an authentic Italian pasta…There really is nothing better. He jokes,  “Also, I feel that many people have the mindset that they are eating a vegetable, so it completely voids the fact that you are eating quite a few carbohydrates that come from the pasta.”

Wether you be outside around a fire enjoying the crisp air that transitions into winter, or cuddled up on the couch in a blanket, there really is not a more satisfying taste then that of butternut squash. Before you bundle up to relax for the night, grab yourself a bowl or plate of your favorite squash meal.

Buon Appetito!

 

 

Looking for a rich probiotic to enhance recipes? Greek yogurt is the answer. 

Yogurt can be a creamy addition to enhance most Italian dishes.

However, most traditional yogurt products contain a high concentration of artificial additives and ingredients that can work against the natural digestive process.

What’s worse? High fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener, has a very high glycemic index and aspartame contains methanol, a substance that is toxic even in the smallest amount.

Despite it’s numerous downfalls, yogurt has enhanced many recipes for its creaminess and flavor. Italian dinners, and in particular, Italian sauces, have been greatly intensified with the use of this creamy ingredient.

The search has inevitably been for a higher grade and more nutritious substitute to the fatty cow yogurt.

Greek yogurt, as opposed to regular yogurt, not only provides a thicker, more creamy alternative, but also is loaded with protein and probiotics (the healthy bacteria).

It fits the college student’s budget since it is inexpensive, while also improving digestion, immunity and may even reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, according to the Journal of Applied Microbiology (2005).

This relatively new superfood is commonly used for yogurt parfaits, tzatziki, smoothies or in nutritious popsicles, but did you know it can also make for a wonderful creamy Italian sauce?

I recently tired Creme de la Crumb‘s Greek yogurt Alfredo sauce and was astonished not only by the supreme flavor, but also the protein it added merely by using Greek yogurt. I can assure you, give this a go and you will never go back to the store bought cans.

Photo adopted from (Nikodem Nijaki,creative commons)