Dining Out… With Friends
Dining out… With Friends at Giorgio’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria!
For this installment of Dining Out we decided to check out the newest Downtown Morgan Hill eatery—Giorgio’s.
Italian Grill & Pizzeria. We showed up early to guarantee a place to sit. Even still, the place was popping. Walking in, a full bar welcomes you like you’re walking into a scene from ‘Cheers.’ Tables left right and center, filling up around the dinner hour this day with hungry, happy patrons. Chatter and laughter filled the air in this very welcoming place.
Our Dining Out friends on this late-November afternoon were Morgan Hill’s new first couple—Mark and Sue Turner. Mark had just been elected as Morgan Hill’s mayor two weeks prior on Nov 8th Prior to that, he was the CEO/president of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce for 10 years. Sue recently retired from the Santa Clara County Water District after 41 years, where she served as a Real Estate Unit Manager and Senior Real Estate Agent. She is now a Realtor with Remax Realty in Morgan Hill. We have been friends with the Turners for over 30 years, first meeting at South Valley Community Church in Gilroy “way back in the old days.” These two are truly a South County power couple. The next four years will be exciting ones for Mark and Sue, and we’re excited to see what’s in store for them as they serve the community of Morgan Hill. The Turner’s have three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.
It was great to catch up with these two. We broke bread, chatted about everything under the sun, and as always, had a few good laughs.
The restaurant’s much-anticipated Morgan Hill location opened in late October of 2022. It is the latest of three restaurants under the Giorgio’s banner, owned and operated by the D’Ambrosio family of San Jose—who also own New York Style Sausage Company in Sunnyvale, and distribute those great products to most local grocery stores. The original “Giorgio’s Pizza House” was founded in the Foxworthy shopping center in San Jose in 1959. A second location was opened in Milpitas in 1997. Their original location was a favorite of Mark and Sue – then San Jose residents. Mark fondly remembers “being there all the time.”
Giorgio’s is a great addition to an already bustling Downtown food scene. Their open interior and beautiful outdoor patio are on par with their well-appointed, well-planned neighboring establishments.
Starting out our waitress Jen cheerfully greeted us and offered up the daily specials. Waters all around and a bottle of Sarah’s Vineyard 2018 pinot noir for myself, Deb, and Sue got things off to a great start. On the table was a basket of bread rolls with balsamic vinegar and oil for dipping.
After some discussion and Jen answering a few of our questions, we ordered the appetizers. In no time we had before us: Giorgio’s Italiano Antipasti (A plentiful and tasty selection of dry salami, capicola, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, mild provolone, jalapeño jack cheese, fresh basil, and crostini toast). Antipasti is a perfect choice for sharing with friends, wine, and great conversation. Note: Although I prefer to pair red wine with Antipasti, there is really no rule. Feel free to enjoy a white, red, or even sparkling wine based on your preference.
Steamed Clams (Delicious steamed clams with garlic, white wine, lemon & parsley. They can also be served with a light tomato and herb sauce). Of course, we opted for the garlic, wine, lemon and parsley version. The clams were great and were gone in no time. I determined the bread rolls had been strategically placed in advance to allow us to soak up as much of the garlic wine sauce as possible, which we did. This was a very enjoyable dish. Note: I would prefer a citrus white wine with the dish. However, we stuck with the pinot noir and didn’t miss a beat. Again, no hard and fast rule. Pair to your taste and enjoy. Not a wine drinker? Pair your favorite beer!
Fried Calamari (Semolina herb crusted squid lightly fried and served with horseradish cocktail and tartar sauce). The calamari were tender, and the semolina breading (A type of coarse flour made from durum wheat) was light and airy. Overall, the dish was better than most I’ve had. And I love the option of having both a spicy cocktail and a horseradish-based sauce for dipping. I’m certain everyone loved the calamari, but I was too busy eating it to take notice. Note: my personal choice for calamari would be a nice white, citrusy wine or cold beer. However on this night we were committed to the pinot all the way. In the end, we enjoyed great food, a little wine, and were having a great time.
Somewhere between the conversation, appetizers, and wine, we ordered our main course. We vowed to order a variety of flavors and share family style. The plan worked well.
To the table came Sue’s Italian sausage calzone (Italian sausage, spinach, mushroom, ricotta, onion, mozzarella, and fresh tomato). It was much bigger than anyone expected, and covered the entire plate. Sue enjoyed it as did the rest of us who tried a bit. I have committed to trying this myself on our next visit. Note: the pinot worked well, as in a light red wine is a great pair. A Stella or your favorite beer will also work well.
Mark ordered his go-to pie, the Giorgio’s Special Pizza (Sausage, mushroom, pepperoni, salami, cheese). Quite a nice pie, meaty and just a classic version of a hefty pizza. We all had a slice and Mark still had some to take home. Mark’s beverage of choice is usually water. He stayed true and handled that pizza like a pro. However, a red wine or beer of your choice will also be excellent choices to pair with this classic pie.
Deb went big. She ordered the Penne Calabrese Pasta (a D’Ambrosio family recipe made with sweet Italian sausage and fresh mushrooms in a light tomato cream sauce tossed with penne pasta) it was hearty and flavorful. The pasta was perfectly done, and the flavors were amazing. The mushrooms worked to darken the flavor of the light tomato cream sauce, giving the dish an extra layer of complexity.
For research purposes, I did something I never do: I ordered the Bacon Wrapped Scallops (Served with a trio of sauces over risotto & fresh vegetable). The risotto was nicely prepared, the scallops were seared to provide a crispy yet tender exterior, and bacon. Hello. It was also a very hearty dish. I had to box half my plate. I am a meat guy, so ordering scallops is a huge departure. To be honest, the bacon was a lure, and for some reason it seemed like a good idea. In the end, it was a great idea and I recommend them. A lighter red wine (pinot to a lighter Sangiovese) or a beer of choice pairs best due to the seared finish and bacon. That’s stated, I wouldn’t hesitate to pair a buttery white wine for research’s sake.
By the end of the main courses, were where all pretty content. In the spirit of sharing, we ordered tiramisu (Ladyfingers, rum & espresso, with sweet mascarpone cream) and cannoli (Crispy fried pastry shell stuffed with sweetened ricotta cheese and chocolate chips). These classic desserts, accompanied by a nice cup of coffee, were a fitting end to a great meal and great time. These are easy recommendations! Next time I’m at Giorgio’s, you can count on me to take on the fudge brownie a la mode.
At the end of the evening, it was fun to head out the door and watch Mark and Sue as residents approached to say hello, shake hands, and wish them well. What a great community.
Giorgio’s service, food, family-friendly environment, great staff, and of course, a Sanchez-Turner night out in Morgan Hill… wow. Get to Giorgio’s for family-friendly, casual Italian fare. You will have a great experience.