Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trattoria Giuseppe, the sequel

Imperial MO.

Our anniversary was Saturday, we didn’t have to think a lot about where to celebrate. Angel made reservations a day or two ahead of time.

We returned, not just to celebrate, but because nearly any excuse will do to go back there. We usually are not big celebrators about much of anything, birthdays, mother’s/father’s day. Usually just a card and a nice meal, if we remember the card. We pretty much stopped giving each other gifts a few years ago, opting instead, if at all , to just go pick up a little something we wouldn’t normally buy for ourselves. This year Angel wanted a gold chain so she could put her wedding ring on it and wear it around her neck. We both stopped wearing our rings quite a while back, Angel because of getting snagged on dogs and dog equipment, mine after I smashed my finger on something and just never put it back on. I’m pretty sure I know where it is. That’s right ladies, I wear no wedding ring, but I’m still very happily married, so back off!

Like I said, we are neither big celebrators nor are we sappy sentimentalists. In a battle between symbolism and practicality, we’ll both side with the practical. We know we’re married and so does everyone we know so the rings are sweet, quaint and nice, but sometimes just in the way.

The Place:

Near the intersection of Highway M and old Highway 21, close to, but not actually in Imperial. It shares a parking lot with a saloon and a Pizza shop, and as I recall, an auto parts store.

There was no one sitting outside at the few metal tables provided, no doubt because of the excessive temperature, which was as I recall around one hundred, fifty nine degrees. Inside it was dark and cool, and very friendly. Familiar faces greeted us, a floor staff of seven or eight, all ready and eager to please, dressed in black pants, white button-down shirts, black ties and some with aprons.

We were seated immediately near the back; I opted to face the front so as to keep up with all the activity. There were others there but only a few as this was the early (five P.M) seating. The music was soft and Italian, the aromas simply wonderful. Our drink orders were taken, tea, tea and Pepsi.

We were informed of the daily special, a mushroom laden steak. Though it sounded quite good we’d already discussed amongst each other that in this heat steak would be quite burdensome. So I scanned the menu for alternatives.

The Food:

I waffled between things while everyone else scanned for choices. Everything looked good, everything I’ve ever had there was very good, making the choice difficult. Adam chose the Fettuccini Alfredo, Angel once again ordered the ‘Tutto Mare’, pasta served with shrimp, and clams, and I asked for something completely different, the ravioli.

I decided on the ravioli as we munched on our appetizer, fried ravioli. Fried ravioli is a St. Louis thing and it is exactly what it sounds like. Ravioli, breaded and deep fried, then served with a dipping sauce, usually, and this was the case here, the house red sauce. It was the marinara that nailed it for me, I wanted more.

I’m quite cosmopolitan as you well know and a have sampled some of the finest red sauces available in both cans and jars. I’ve even made my own on many occasions. I know red sauce. The stuff here at TG’s is seriously better than all I have tried. There is a depth of spices that pleases and teases but does not overwhelm. If you let it sit on your tongue for a bit, it will blossom from one spice to another, subtly, pleasantly.

The fried ravioli was superb, not overdone, crispy, light, only slightly breaded and not oily at all.

The complimentary bread was very good as well, big fluffy slices with an almost crunchy crust. Dipping saucers were provided. I prefer mine simple, olive oil and a dash of pepper.

The ravioli appetizer disappeared, the salads arrived. The salads were hand assembled, not just tong’d out of a big batch. Each salad plate had the same ingredients: lettuce, a little red onion, two, flavorable olives, two cherry tomatoes, a small pepper and a couple of slivers of artichoke. Fresh grated parmesan cheese and the best salad dressing in the universe topped it off. There was plenty of it too.

Adam and Angel’s pastas arrived; the waitress offered an apology saying that the ravioli would be a couple more minutes. I didn’t mind, I really didn’t. The atmosphere of the place, the soft din, the music, the very feel of the place mellowed me.

The ravioli did indeed arrive and was well worth the wait. A deep pool of red sauce, sprinkled with parmesan and bits of herbs. Swimming in it were about a dozen beef raviolis, each of which I quartered as I came to it, the better to savor each bite. When I finished Adam and Angel had already given up. The portions were generous and we seldom finish a full pasta dish there. Sensing this, or knowing this, the waitress arrived with a couple of boxes and a dessert menu.

I was proud of having ordered sensibly, I was satisfied but not filled up. We ordered desserts and coffee. I had the plain cheesecake, Adam the Snickers cheesecake, Angel celebrated with a triple, or quadruple chocolate cake-thing. They arrived shortly. I was the only one that finished dessert. Angel started to go into a chocolate coma, Adam was twitching as well, but in a good way. The coffee was dark and delicious, the ambiance just perfect.

“You can bury me now, for my life has certainly peaked.” I told them. They did not disagree.

“I take it you enjoyed your meal?” Angel asked me.

“If they had high speed internet in this place, I’d never leave.”


If this quest were simply about finding the best place in the area it would have ended right here, several months ago. The whole experience is heads above anyplace else. The service is crisp, professional, yet friendly. There is no snooty here. Giuseppe comes out and greats each table, each guest, sometimes twice. Gentile, courteous, you get the sense he really enjoys people enjoying his offerings. The food is simply perfect, the atmosphere splendid. It’s casual but it makes you feel classy. The price for this feast came in at sixty-something, to which we happily heavy-tipped. Olive Garden will cost you about the same, but the difference is night and day.

Don’t waste your money on some inferior faux-Italian franchise joint, drive down to Imperial and get more, much, much more than your money’s worth.

Trattoria Giuseppe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I agree with everything you said, only to add the place is in need of a makeover. Looks dirty and old.