Giusti’s: Walnut Grove Roadhouse Spans Four Generations

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Italian Food Walnut Grove

Giusti’s is a century-old family-friendly roadhouse about a half-hour south of Sacramento. According to the restaurant’s website, Egisto Giusti emigrated to Walnut Grove just after 1900 and soon after set up Millers Ferry Saloon, soon to be known as Giusti’s. The nearly century-old establishment is currently operated by Egisto’s grandson, Mark Morais. His mother Dolores was a Giusti. His daughter Katie is the fourth generation to work at the restaurant; she works as a waitress and hostess.

Restaurant Walnut Grove
Today, Giusti’s attracts both families and bikers.

River Walnut Grove
Giusti’s sits at “the confluence of the Snodgrass Slough and the Mokulemne River.” You have no idea what a “slough” is? Neither did I. Apparently it’s an obscure British word for “an inlet or backwater.” Sounds about right. In front of Giusti’s, there’s a deck looking out on the passing boats, which dock at the nearby marina. The banks are lined with lush fig trees. It took all my self-control not to pluck one of the plump green figs.

Sign Walnut Grove
Next to the walkway to the dock sat this sign, warning that “Alcohol impairs judgment.” Fair enough, but what interested me about this sign was the image of the man making out with the fish. Is that what happens if you Boat Under the Influence?

Restaurant Walnut Grove
Hundreds of ball caps hang from the ceiling in the bar, many donated by local businesses, and many representing businesses that no longer exist.

Restaurant Walnut Grove
Giusti’s advertises itself as a “Hunters and Fishermans Paradise.” Unfortunately, judging from all the mounted deer heads and blue marlin, it’s no paradise for fish or game. This deer on the right even suffered further indignity, fitted with a ball cap.

Given the name, I expected a more Italian menu, but only Thursday nights are truly Italian, featuring dishes like carpaccio, bruschetta, chicken piccata, ravioli, lasagna and fettuccini alfredo. The menu was surprisingly simple, sporting a few steaks, fried chicken, a couple seafood dishes, and a couple pasta dishes. There were also daily specials on the board, like broiled lobster tail, rack of lamb, baby back ribs and grilled oysters. Giusti’s dinners are served family style, and no matter what you order, include plenty of complimentary accompaniments.

Bread Walnut Grove
We were served a basket of fresh baked Puglaese bread, which was soft, yeasty Italian bread.

Italian Food Walnut Grove
We received a big blue bowl of vegetable minestrone soup, carrots, beans, grains and herbs all imparting flavor to the excellent broth.

Salad Walnut Grove
We received another blue bowl of tossed salad with “special house dressing,” which Allison compared to 1000 island. Seemed to be the case.

Italian Food Walnut Grove
This plate of thin-sliced salami had the consistency of bologna and was average at best.

Italian Food Walnut Grove
This dish of garlic and olive oil-soaked garbanzo and kidney beans, which were tossed with herbs and absolutely addictive.

Italian Food Walnut Grove
I ordered the prawns ($15.50). They were available fried, grilled or baked. I ordered them baked, and they were large butterflied specimens, juicy and dusted with paprika. They came with a dish of house-made cocktail sauce, a simple but tasty concoction of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish. My meal was also accompanied by a baked potato.

Italian Food Walnut Grove
Allison wasn’t hungry, so she limited herself to a child’s portion of lightly-breaded white veal cutlet ($8.75). It came in a gravy and was served with a baked potato, with a dish of sour cream.

Considering how well Giusti’s fed us, we never even considered dessert. Overall, the restaurant was a worthy stop, for the hearty food and for the interesting atmosphere, both inside and out.

Address: 14743 Walnut Grove-Thornton Rd, Walnut Grove, CA 95690, USA

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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