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Buon Appetito! At Your Service!

Everybody loves the Italian Deli such as Molinaris in San Francisco
Everybody loves the Italian Deli such as Molinaris in San FranciscoPhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Appetito Cal Italian Deli

Rating:
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When you’ve left your heart in San Francisco and you miss that New York state of mind, there’s no better therapy in Palm Springs than to meet, greet, and eat at the newest, most authentic gastropub in the valley.

We’re talking about Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, Bar and Eatery that’s located just off Hwy 111 adjacent to Koffi and right across the street from the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. An eclectic designed diner that—depending where you enter in at or are standing—readily scoots you to an east coast feeling or a west coast vibe. It’s spacious, it’s wonderfully lit by the outside sun and there’s a hip sense going on that alerts you that you’re in for some good food. And it’s really good food.

Patrick Service is the one of the managing partners of Appetito, and we like that he calls the place a gastropub. To my thinking, the somewhat recent terminology “gastropub” is simply a pub that’s casual and serves great food & drink. And it seems that a lot of bars and lounges in town try to grab at that name because it is a trendy one and there is a foodie excitement to it. But this eatery hits the mark—and when someone speaks of a gastropub here in the valley, I will take it to mean that they are talking about Appetito!

The place has only been open a few weeks, so if you haven’t made it over yet, don’t beat yourself up. But realize, once you’ve been, it may well be one of your haunts forever. Executive Chef Chad Shaner and the aforementioned Food & Beverage guy, Patrick Service have been given the title the “foodie dream team” not only because of their kindred spirit (longtime friends and past culinary operatives at famed east coast eateries) but because every delicious dish at Appetito complements Patrick’s well thought through selection of California and Italian wines. Yeah—there you go, this is what a gastropub does.

And also, a lot of you will recognize Patrick. He’s the scion of the Delgado family that own and operate the Las Casuelas Restaurants in our valley. Patrick’s the General Manager there at the Las Casuelas Terraza and he’s pictured in the dictionary under multitasking epicure. And hasn’t he put together one of the best tequila bars, over at his round Palapa lounge at Casuelas Terraza—what’s he got, over 75 tequilas and mescals?!

The description :“Cal-Italian Deli Bar and Eatery” pretty much describes and sizes up of what’s going on at Appetito. Go in, grab a menu, sit or stand where you like, and give it a quick read—it sets everything strait. Or, let me help you here:
Quoting from their menu, “a modern approach to the classic Italian eatery with plates made for sharing in a stylish setting.
• The restaurant is casual and relaxed. Order and pay at the counter and choose a comfortable booth or table indoors, or wander out the patio for a table and take in the Palm Spring views.
• It’s what they call “limited table service” which means your meals and beverages will be delivered to you, but of course, you can continue to order food and drinks from your table. And don’t worry—they clean up.
• Start with a snack or salad, add a house-made pasta, Panini, flatbread or one of their dinner specials for a full meal. Or choose from any selection of items to share at the table.
• Check out the range of the beverage menu from Italian sodas, craft beers, frozen and very wet cocktails, and of course vino, available by the glass or quartino (8.5oz) and did we mention the wines are Californian or Italian.

For starters, we had the Pea & Prosciutto Arancini—those crispy deep-fried risotto balls with the warm creamy Parmesan/Truffle Aioli inside. Matched up with a refreshing glass of Camelot Pinot Grigio and/or the crisp and floral Prosecco Superiore, Asolo, Bele Casel, that combo will set the vibe alongside the Grilled Chicken Wings with Gorgozola Dip & Pickled Veggies.

The snacks this town needs to try are the Blistered Shishitos , and Crispy Calamari with Spicy Romesco. And by the way—the Arancini was still rated the best in our valley, even after trying them back at home a couple of hours later.

The place has its own pasta station and their house-made pastas and cheeses are superb. The Ricotta Gnocchi with Kale Pesto, Walnuts and Lemon is the example of wonderfully inventive fare on classics—yes, it also rates the best in the valley.

As mentioned, the wine list is efficient and focused on the menu: a couple sparklers, two whites, a rosé, and three reds. The rosé is the refreshing and tasty Trenza Rosata from San Luis Obispo, which goes with everything on the menu! The reds are reason enough to simply stop in at the bar and relax. Patrick does the right thing and has the bold but balanced Foppiano Petite Sirah, Lot 96, pouring. He’s also got a great Hanger Steak to hang with the Petite. Heavens! Life is good. The Wine Bar is also a full service Negroni Bar--concocting your favorite cocktails, apéritifs and digestifs.

And we can’t forget Appetito’s take on Tommy DiNic’s Roasted Pork, Broccoli Rabe & Provolone Philly Sandwich. Chef Shaner fixes his version with a Calabrian Chili Aioli—that sandwich simply took off to the stars along with its partnered brew! (CV Brewery crafted a special ale for this sandwich—Cheers! ).

For dessert,General Manager John Shay came by to offer the deli's Tiramisu Profiteroles. I don't have much of a sweet-tooth and I was pretty satiated from the meal, so I declined. But John insisted that I do try it, that "everyone who has tried them, has found them to be delicious" and he challenged me to claim otherwise. Well--truly, it was one of the most tastiest desserts I've had in a long time. The perfect blend of two classic desserts into one delicious treat. With the Koffi store next door, Appetito serves their coffee fresh as can be. A total delight!

And again, we know—most of us have our favorite food joints to pop in on while in SF or in NY. Now we, and the lucky tourists, have one in PS—we love you.

Appetito: 1700 S Camino Real #2, Palm Springs, CA 92264 (760) 327-1929 Open daily 11am Lunch and Dinner www.AppetitoDeli.com

Buon Appetito e Saluté

Rick Riozza wittily titles himself the "sommelier-about-town" in the desert publication CV Weekly wine and food column: the Vino Voice where his beat is to eat, drink, and cover the environs of Palm Springs. A freelance writer, a contributor to Tasting Panel Magazine, palmspringslife.com and the Brand Ambassador for the historic Galleano Winery, you can find him conducting wine tastings, food & wine pairing events and fun wine seminars. Contact winespectrum@aol.com