Just What The Doctor Ordered
Restaurant Type: Italian
I had been home for three weeks following my 105-day adventure in the hospital, so I decided it was about damned time I got back out in the real world to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes; going out to a nice restaurant for dinner. And what better way to celebrate my freedom than with our closest friends, Kim and Mary (also our European traveling buddies), who were in town to spend the night. It seemed like a natural then that we should try a restaurant I had heard so many good comments about, Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena.
Since the four of us have traveled to Tuscany together, we were looking forward to visiting Gale’s, a restaurant that features Northern Italian cuisine. Walking in the entrance from their parking lot (free), we were greeted with a jovial “Buona sera” and surrounded by some delightful aromas. The front dining room encompasses an open kitchen, and it was pretty much full-up with guests upon entering. We were led to a large back room, which filled up with patrons as the evening progressed. There is also a charming bar area that serves mixed drinks, beer and, of course, vino. Artwork (for sale) adorns the walls.
We had a difficult time choosing what we wanted to eat as there were tons of delectable-sounding dishes on the menu, but fortunately our server (the delightful, effervescent and knowledgeable Rachel Anne) helped us navigate through the multiple meat, chicken, fish, pasta and pizza choices. After losing 42 pounds during my hospital stay, this looked like a menu where I could gain some of that weight back.
Now there is nothing like the Proscitto y Melone that you get in Italy. In Italy, the melons taste like candy, but Gale’s appetizer this was a good tasting, cut-up Cantaloupe, and the Prosciutto was fresh and very tasty. It was a great start.
Along with the regular menu, there are a list of specials to choose between, and I was in the mood for Gnocchi. The only problem was that the special on this night was a Gnocchi Bolognese with Meat Sauce, and I was more in the mood for a white sauce. Was I doomed? Not at Gale’s.
I was served a large helping of Gnocchi in a White Sauce with just a hint of Nutmeg ($18) that was superb (I just finished the leftover stragglers this afternoon for lunch). This kind of fare, of course, had not been available during my three-and-a-half-month hospital stay, and my Gnocchi-craving body was in heaven after the first bite.
Tracy started out with the Roasted Beet Salad ($13) consisting of Roasted Golden And Red Beets, Arugula, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans, and both she and Kim ordered the special Ravioli with Chicken Genovese-Style ($19), House-made Chicken and Spinach Ravioli served with Fresh Basil Sauce and Green Beans.
Mary, our fish queen, went straight to another special on the menu. After a Half Arugula Salad ($6.00), Mary dove into her Venetian-Style Risotto with Shrimp and Salmon ($24), Arborio Rice sautéed with White Wine and Topped with Wild, Caught Shrimp and Atlantic Salmon sautéed with a Spicy Garlic and Tomato Mixture with Kalamata Olives and Red Bell Pepper. It was another winning Gale’s dish.
The four of us washed this all down with a couple of bottles of an Umbrian Sangiovese, La Carraia ($30 per bottle), which accompanied the meal to perfection.
The couple sitting next to us were savoring their Gale’s meal, and asked us to shoot a photo of their two entrees. He had the special Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop ($26), a 12-ounce Pork Chop lightly breaded with Parmesan Cheese, sautéed and finished in the Pizza Oven and served with Arugula Heirloom Tomato Salad and Red Bell Pepper. She ordered the Lasagna Bolognese ($17) off the regular menu, which consists of Lasagna with House-made Meat Sauce. They said they thoroughly enjoyed each dish.
Rachel-Anne knew about my elongated hospital stay and said the restaurant wanted to make me dessert on the house to celebrate the fact I hadn’t gone to that Big Trattoria in the Sky. Well, there are two things I have never turned down, a free drink or a free dessert, and since my pants are still two sizes two large, I decided, “What-the-hell, I can gain another couple of pounds.”
Although Rachel Anne espoused the yummy qualities of the Coconut Creme Cake, my eyes and taste-buds were drawn to the Mixed Berry Crumble topped with Vanilla Ice Cream. Oh man, this was an unexpected treat filled with mouth-bursting berries. I’d like to say I finished this on my own, but I did see Mary surreptitiously dip her spoon more than a few times into this concoction (and Tracy, too), which was a good thing because had I eaten it all myself I might have imploded right on the spot. Their clandestine efforts were appreciated.
Well, since Mary and I were stuffing our face with sweets, Tracy and Kim did not want to be denied, so they opted to share what Tracy calls her new favorite dessert, Butter Pecan Gelato ($7). I only had one bite, but it was stupendous.
We couldn’t have been happier than our decision to have my coming-back-out party at Gale’s Restaurant. It was a fantastic dining experience, and we will be sure to return to enjoy more of their freshly-made, Northern Italian cuisine. Gale’s receives a 4.6 for food, 4.4 for value and a 4.8 for ambiance (which includes the terrific service provided by Rachel Anne). After dining here, I knew I was on the full (and I mean full) road to recovery.
MaiTaiTom Rating Food + Ambiance + Value 4.6 maitais (out of 5)
452 S. Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tuesday – Thursday : 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday/Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.