‘Red Pepper’ Owners Buy ‘Giuseppe’s’

The owners of Red Pepper in Grand Forks, Jeff and Nicki Tellmann, will buy Giuseppe’s Italian Ristorante, but will keep the name and much of the food the same.

The Herald reports that chef Chris Schultz, who previously worked at the Toasted Frog, is being brought on.

“As time goes on, at the beginning of the year, we’ll just start to tweak it… Giuseppe’s menu right now is the core and we’re just going to build on it.” Jeff Tellmann said.

Now, I was by no means a Giuseppe’s regular, and you likely know my view on the Red Pepper’s quality. I have only been to Giuseppe’s a few times and have never formally reviewed it. But I wasn’t blown away.

I had some garlic bread one of the times that tasted only of garlic powder, and that’s not a good thing. Other than that, I do know they make pasta and bread by hand, which is a good thing.

But I think the prospect of a new chef could be a good change. I have zero info on Mr. Schultz, but if he put in any substantial time at the Toasted Frog, chances are he knows some stuff. I’m excited to see what changes at Giuseppe’s and I’ll let you know what I think.

Mamma Maria’s

I finally got over to East Grand Forks and tried out some dishes at Mamma Maria’s, a local joint that has been growing a fan base as one of two local Italian places in the area. Giuseppe’s on DeMers in downtown Grand Forks is the other.

I was surprised at the interior of the restaurant, with nice low lighting and a contemporary feel. I was surprised because Mamma’s is in a mall and the prospect for a good Italian restaurant in a mall is not promising.

Luckily, the food was largely tasty.

Wanting to get a pretty good representation of the menu, I and two friends ordered a few dishes and an appetizer. We had the veal cannelloni ($11.99), mamma’s trio ($15.99), fettuccini in a vodka cream sauce ($9.99) and the mamma’s sampler appetizer ($13.99).

Sample Appetizier

The appetizer was out fast and it was hot, as was every other dish served to us. When I say hot, I mean it, cause these were piping hot. Included in the appetizer were bruschetta, mozzarella wraps, fried ravioli, chicken fingers and calamari. It was a big plate full of fried food, but we wanted to try a few different appetizers.

The appetizers were served with a barbecue balsamic vinegar that I found pretty unappealing. It was an incredibly runny sauce that was heavy on the vinegar. The bruschetta was topped with the same sauce over the tomatoes and unfortunately overpowered it and made the bread soggy. Trying the other appetizers, I would really only recommend the calamari. Not the best I’ve ever had, but not bad.

Mamma's Trio

I had the mamma’s trio for an entree, which was another sampler that had a portion of chicken Parmesan, lasagna and fettuccine alfredo. Each was fine, but the alfredo was under-seasoned and the chicken in the chicken Parmesan was a tiny cut.

Served with our meal was a basket of garlic knots that tasted fine, but they were cold both times we had them. They would be infinitely better if served hot, but the flavor was still there.

Garlic Knots

My dining mates both enjoyed their dishes, they said. So while this may seem like a mixed review, I’ve got to say I really like Mamma Maria’s. Because Mamma’s is a local place, I’d much rather support it than a national chain. I have yet to step foot in the Olive Garden since it opened, so I really can’t compare the food. But I would bet that the food at Mamma’s is as good or better. And if it’s not, you can feel good about supporting a local business.

The menu at Mamma Maria’s has pretty much any classic Italian dish you can think of, with quite a selection of seafood, pasta, pizza and sandwiches. Five different burgers are also there if you’re not feeling like Italian.

While I found a few things that could be better, I’ll be heading back to Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks soon to explore more of their menu.

218.773.2225

The Riverwalk Centre
211 DeMers Avenue
East Grand Forks, MN 56721

Mamma Maria's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wait For GF Olive Garden Almost Over! Get Out Your Sweatpants

Friday brought news that the Olive Garden in Grand Forks officially has a general manager, Manvel native Donald Szutenbach.

The restaurant will open Monday, January 23. It sits where the Columbia 4 theater used to, on 32 Ave. S.

Now, I know nearly everyone who lives in the northern Red River Valley is beyond excited about the opening, but I’m not exactly.

For those who’ve actually had Italian food, this isn’t. It’s American Italian food, or fast-food Italian. Any time you add the word American to a type of food, you make it worse. American Mexican, for example. We destroyed pizza up until a few years ago when people started waking up a finding out you can actually make a good pizza for not much money.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

When we weren’t exactly nice to Pizza Ranch, we definitely heard from those of you who are fans. But bashing Olive Garden? Uh oh. Maybe I should tread lightly.

I just don’t see the extreme attraction. I’ve heard of people driving to Fargo to chow down, usually waiting in line for a while. Waiting waiting waiting for that little disk to glow red and vibrate, signaling it’s your turn to stuff your face with breadsticks and veal scallopini.

‘Sir, why not try our new Alfredo sauce injection station. Just have a seat and we’ll hook ya’ right up. Why eat sauce when you can have it injected right into your veins! It’s much more efficient and cholestoral-inducing!’

Where were we.

Fettuccine Alredo

Don’t get me wrong, I like Italian food and have, in the past, enjoyed myself at the OG. I’m just saying, like with most anything, we could have it better. Why not support a local Italian place like Giuseppe’s in Grand Forks or Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks. I’ve only sampled Giuseppe’s once, but a friend says the manicotti is pretty tasty. The one time I was there it was dead, so try it out for me.

By the way, that fettucine alfredo that you love so much? It packs on 1220 calories, 75 grams of fat, 47 grams of saturated fat, and 1350 milligrams of sodium. Maybe just the lunch portion?

And that soup and breadsticks you just can’t have enough of? 26 grams of fat in the “Garden-Fresh” salad and 1930 milligrams of sodium. Breadsticks are OK, if you only have a few. They come in at 150 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium.

The food is most likely prepared in advance and heated when it’s ordered. I have no official experience to back that up, but it is what many chains do to make sure the same quality is seen across the board and also to make preparation simple.

Quality Italian food should be made with fresh ingredients, from scratch and made to order.

The restaurant will no doubt bring some business to the area south of Columbia Mall. The old Grizzly’s location will soon be booming with a Noodles and Company and an Erbert & Gerbert sandwich shop. Add the new Scheels location in the old Target space and it will be busy, to put it lightly.

If you feel differently than me, and you likely do, leave a comment and let me know what you like at the Olive Garden. Maybe I’ll give it a try. A review should come soon.

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