Twenty-four years in the restaurant business, and not once has Gino's experienced a labor shortage.
Thursday, October 14, 1999
That's just one of the benefits of being a family-run operation made up of five brothers and sisters, their various spouses, and six nieces and nephews. In the front of the house and in the back, it''s more than likely that a family member will take your order and prepare one of the heirloom dishes that came with the Bozzo family from Calabria, Italy.
It''s safe to say that Gina, Maria, Anna, Frank and Ralph Bozzo grew up in the business. "Dad would be waiting for us after school every day, to pick us up and bring us to the restaurant," son Frank remembers fondly. "Since he and our mom opened the place, there''s never been one day without a family member in the kitchen." All grown up now, the kids run the restaurant, dedicating it to the memory of their parents, Luigi and Angelina Bozzo. "They brought us here to make a better life for us, and we''ve been living the dream ever since. It''s the immigrant success story you''ve always heard, about coming to America. We''ve been blessed with good business, and now all these years later, the kids I waited on way back then come in to eat with their kids!"
On any given day you''ll find Anna hosting, husband Nuccio cooking alongside Ralph and Frank, Gina overseeing the front, and Maria doing the books or tossing pizza dough. "It''s all in the wrist," she laughs, pointing to the list of a dozen or more pizzas, just part of a menu that features a large selection of pastas, fresh fish and grilled items. And since completing the covered patio addition a couple of years ago, alfresco dining is a year-round option.
Along with the large menu, three specials appear every day. "It''s funny that now there''s a demand and appreciation for the kind of dishes we grew up with that people at first didn''t understand," Frank comments. "It used to be that all people understood was spaghetti and meatballs--these days we sell out of specials like the slow-roasted osso bucco, or the rabbit stew served over polenta, dishes that our mom used to give us to eat for dinner because they wouldn''t sell."
Signature Dish While it''s true that most of Gino''s menu burrows its roots in Southern Italy, the blackened chicken fettucine found on both the lunch and dinner menus is Cal-Italian, and they sell a ton of the stuff. Their own special mixture of blackening spices is held to a impenetrable code of secrecy, but the rest of the dish is pretty straight forward: Boneless chicken breast is dredged in the spice mix and charcoal grilled. Taken off the grill and sliced, it then goes into a saute pan where garlic is doing its thing with a knob of butter and a splash of white wine. A creamy ladle-full of bechamel sauce goes in the pan next, to be finished with a generous dose of parmesan, mozzarella and asiago cheeses. It''s no secret at all that the reason the sauce is so good is the spicy attitude that the chicken lends, just the thing over a mound of fettucine.
Wine Recommendation Gino''s offers a terrific selection of both California and Italian wines. Gina''s pick for this dish is Ruffino Libaio from Tuscany, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Dry-ish with flavors of citrus, it''s a good choice for balancing out the blackening spices and richness of the sauce.