If you're on the hunt for "old country" style Italian cuisine, look no further than Giuseppe's Restaurant in Schererville.
The restaurant, owned by the Belmonte family, was established in the fall of 2011 on Schererville's Eagle Ridge Drive, a street located behind the busy shopping area on Indianapolis Boulevard and near ShowPlace Theaters.
Giuseppe's is actually tucked into its own little corner and though it's not easily seen, raves about the food from frequent local diners are making the eatery stand out, while growing numbers of food fans continue to visit the place.
"We have something for everyone here," said owner/manager Joe Belmonte. "Our concept (with the restaurant) is we wanted to offer a one-stop shop."
If diners want everything from pizza to pasta dishes, sandwiches, authentic desserts or gelato, it's all at Giuseppe's.
Among specialties at the 30-seat restaurant are Neapolitan pizzas, which are wood fired in a stone oven.
"The stones came from Europe and we had a master pizza chef Antonino from Naples, Italy, come here for 2 to 3 weeks to teach us how to make the pizza," Belmonte said. The dough is even made from imported Italian flour.
Belmonte said his brother Tony, who is skilled in masonry, built the oven and the restaurant. The family designed the interior as well.
Just walking into Giuseppe's, one easily feels as though you're entering a little trattoria in Italy. Belmonte said his parents Delia and Umile come from the Calabria region of Italy and the recipes made at the restaurant are crafted in the culinary style of that area.
In fact, Giuseppe's is a real family affair on a daily basis with various members of the family working there and mother Delia starring as the main chef in the kitchen.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is inviting with colorful murals, Italian music playing, and a great aroma permeating throughout.
We visited Giuseppe's on a recent Saturday and chose a seat next to one of the mural-decorated walls which faced the kitchen. Customers may order at the counter to carry-out their meal, dine in, or have it delivered.
Though the menu is not large, all of the Italian staples are offered. Popular dinners include lasagna ($10.95); Ravioli (4 cheese) and 2 meatballs ($9.95); Gnocchi ($9.95); Linguine ($10.95) and other favorites. And the food here is not your average Italian - it's actually food like "grandma" would make.
Belmonte's mother Delia does everything from scratch - meatballs are hand rolled and arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice balls) are made daily as an appetizer.
"My mother is old-school Italian," Belmonte said, adding that she doesn't believe in taking any shortcuts when it comes to quality and taste in creating her recipes.
During our visit, Delia even came out of the kitchen to ask diners what they thought of the food.
For our dinner, we chose Stuffed Shells with 2 meatballs ($9.95); Lemon Chicken ($13.95), which was a special of the day; and the Margherita Con Bufala Neapolitan Pizza ($13.95). All items were winners with the lemon chicken a real stand out for its delicate flavor and tender meat. The pasta served with the chicken dish also featured the winning lemon-butter sauce which embellishes the chicken.
We began with the arancini ($3.75), which was a filling and flavorful start to the meal and came with a delicious sweet sauce. Our meal ended with a creamy strawberry gelato ($2.95). All gelatos at Giuseppe's are made on the premises as well.
Belmonte said they've recently added a wine list to the offerings.
Giuseppe's was previously located on Torrence Avenue in Lansing, where the family strictly had a carry-out and delivery service.
FYI: Giuseppe's Restaurant, 1000 Eagle Ridge Drive, Schererville, (219) 322-0011 or visit giuseppespizza.net. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays.