Chef Giuseppe Brucia’s passion for authentic Italian cooking enthralls diners as they sample each delectable course at his eponymous establishment in Shreveport. Ristorante Giuseppe, located on Line Avenue, reflects the award-winning chef’s 50 years of devotion to the art of fine Italian cuisine. His wife, Natalie, and their son, Gioacchino Brucia, help run the charming restaurant, where families come together to break bread in style and couples spend romantic evenings nibbling on such dishes as beef carpaccio and osso buco paired with fine wines.
Since opening the 10,000-square-foot restaurant four years ago, Chef Giuseppe has amassed a devoted local following. The 2,200-square-foot state-of-the-art kitchen that he purchased in Milan and had shipped to America is in full view of diners. So patrons can kick back, relax, and enjoy the culinary show.
Chef Giuseppe, who was attending culinary school in Palermo, Sicily, by the age of 10 and became an award-winning chef in Italy, introduced his brand of Italian cuisine in Shreveport with the opening of his former dining establishment, Firenze Ristorante, in 1976. He has elevated the art of fine Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in the Shreveport-Bossier area.
In the evening, candles flicker softly atop white linen tables in the main dining room appointed with dreamy paintings of the Italian countryside. A massive brick fireplace and large archways render an elegant, Old World feel. Since opening, Ristorante Giuseppe has been a favored place for those who want to “pop the question” amid fine wines and romantic feasts.
In the adjacent bar, a youthful crowd gathers on Friday and Saturday nights when a live jazz and blues duo performs beneath the soft glow of a whimsical chandelier. The modern, colorful décor is enhanced by the artwork of local artist Scott Griffin. While some simply opt for drinks and appetizers at the bar, others settle into the nearby tables for a multicourse Italian dinner.
The utterly romantic bar, which seats 68, opens onto a terrace adorned with festive red umbrellas. On warm summer evenings, as the wind blows gently, friends enjoy al fresco dining under the stars. Refreshing summer cocktails such as the limoncellotini and the refreshing strawberry basil caipirinha enhance the mood. Made-from-scratch breadsticks are placed on all tables in the bar and main dining room shortly after patrons are seated.
During weekdays, the power lunch crowd shows up to enjoy such Italian specials as chicken raviolone, lasagna Bolognese, pappardelle with fennel sausage, and smoked salmon panini accented with caramelized red onions. On Sundays, families arrive en masse to claim their coveted seats for brunch. Private rooms are often reserved for special occasions, from wedding receptions to business lunches.
“Everything in our restaurant is made from scratch, from all the pastas to the bread and gelato,” says Gioacchino, whose nickname is Joe. He serves as the general manager and runs the front of the house, taking care of guests with kid-glove service. He often greets guests by name and shows them to their favorite tables. However, new guests are treated with a similar enthusiasm in the hopes that they will become regulars at this revered and unique dining establishment.
Opulent Italian salt-cured meat and cheese boards are popular during the dinner hour for starters. Other favorite appetizers include eggplant parmigiana and bresaola (air-dried beef) with mixed greens, shaved Parmesan, and a lemon vinaigrette. The antipasto plate is a good choice to share with someone. It consists of the chef’s selection of assorted salami, marinated olives, imported cheese, and vegetables.
A house specialty is the spinach tagliolini made with prosciutto, fresh mushrooms, and a tomato-cream sauce; all fresh pasta offerings come in two sizes and at two price points. Seafood lovers enjoy the fritto misto, a pasta dish with mixed fried seafood including shrimp, calamari, and salmon. A popular main course among carnivores is the juicy 14-ounce grilled Tuscan ribeye served with fragrant rosemary potatoes.
For dessert, be sure to sample the housemade sorbets and gelati, the seasonal soufflé, and the luscious fiore di fragola made with an almond laced cookie shell, apricots, fresh strawberries, and zabalone cream.
Happy hour enlivens the bar Monday through Saturday from 4 to 7 pm; there is also a late night happy hour Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm until midnight featuring an astute selection of wines by the glass and signature cocktails. A wine dinner is offered each month, when several courses are paired with fine wines. Ristorante Giuseppe is the perfect choice for those who want to celebrate intimate dining and outstanding cuisine in a beautiful setting.