I read an interview of the feminine goddess Sophia Loren once where she was asked how she maintains her amazing figure and her reply was "a bowl of pasta everyday." Being otherworldly in her gorgeousness, I had no doubt that this prescription was one for the likes of Mt. Olympians, but one that surely would not work the same for us mere mortals.
Pasta is a forbidden luxury for me and something that I usually eat rarely, angel hair style with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, maybe a squeeze of lemon for tang. I also got spoiled in Italy with the hearty and simplified versions that are oftentimes mucked up in America with two much sauce, meat or cheese.
But a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being taken to a new restaurant in Palm Springs by my two dear friends Sam (who is the director of Michael Lord Gallery) and his partner Carlo, (a well-known hypersurrealist painter). Guiseppe's, tucked away into the Smoketree Shopping Center, rekindled my love affair with good, family style Italian food.
Walking into the place was like walking into a family living room. The tables and chairs in the low lit dining room were packed with people of all walks of life and lots of noisy camaraderie. A bar in the center was stacked seat to seat with after work drinkers and the family that runs the place was busy serving customers and spending time with their seasoned regulars, sitting down often to chat table side and share glasses of wine and conversation.
One look at the menu and I was thrilled with the clever and creative pasta combinations going above and beyond the norm. A big bowl of dense bread and a nice glass of cabernet assuaged my hunger while waiting for my main dish of smoky chicken penne pasta. The penne was cooked to al dente perfection and studded with moist, tiny bites of white meat chicken, while strains of smoked gouda delighted every bite with a deep, rich aftertaste. Sam told me his secret of ordering a side of sauteed spinach to mix in with the pasta and he demonstrated on his own alfredo while I threw a pile of the green deliciousness into mine as well. The bowls were so large I could only eat one fourth of mine, but had leftovers for two lunches later at home to enjoy.
Before we left, our waitress Kim came to sit with us and drink a glass of wine. She told us that the restaurant was doing so well after opening in the "wrong" time of year, knee deep in the blazing summer, that they were considering opening a location in Palm Desert as well.
Her tattoo summed up my feelings about the restaurant!