When I was a child my parents loved taking us to Johnny Costa’s in Desert Hot Springs. Like Capri, another historical Italian restaurant in DHS, Johnny Costa’s was known for its great food and old fashioned hospitality. Run by the Costa family and employing the entire family, the restaurant became a quick favorite to me and my sister because of the talented waiter Tony Costa who could whip a table cloth out from underneath a fully set table in three seconds flat without moving a single item on the table. We requested this trick time and again at the end of an evening and he would graciously perform it as if it were the first time we had asked.
It’s been a long time since those days and I recently went to Johnny Costa’s for dinner in their downtown Palm Springs locale surprised to see the same faces of the family members, only older and wiser. The menu items hadn’t changed much, still serving up classic Italian dishes, drinks and desserts in a warm and jovial atmosphere. Steak Sinatra was still on the menu as well as an assortment of seafood delights.
But I was there for the pizza after hearing that they had started serving it about six months ago. I was pleasantly surprised when the pies arrived steaming at my table to note that the Costa family had stayed true to their Naples roots by making a thin crusted large and flat pizza, not overrun with sauce and dotted with fresh ingredients.
I am definitely going to consider Johnny Costa’s when I want to pick up a pie from now on. The simple Margherita is divine: buffalo Italian-style mozzarella, fresh basil, fresh tomato sauce and an olive oil drizzle. The Le quattro stagioni (Four Seasons) pizza comes with four corresponding ingredients to the seasons and can be served with the ingredients separated into four quarters as it is served in Italy, or all mixed together to serve up a delicious morsel in every bite. You can eat the pizzas in or you can call in to pick up an order. I will probably be calling in on Thursday nights when the cocktails are half off and I can imbibe at the small and intimate bar while waiting for my steaming slices to go!