Apparently no one in Redding had ever heard the phrase, “Location, location, location” when the old Ramona’s Mexican Restaurant opened. Or maybe it’s just that the edge-of-downtown location was pretty good way back when. There was a lively, uh, bar scene and, robust, uh, personal entertainment industry. And of course there was no Mt. Shasta Mall or much of anything in Enterprise, so most people lived and shopped and dined out downtown, or close to it.
After Ramona’s closed – sometime in the late 1970s, M. de Joie thinks – it became a steak house called Grady’s, which did Okay (the Joe Clubs incident aside) and there may have been another similar steak house after that. In 2002 Jim and Penny Gironda opened their eponymous Italian restaurant, which was bought by Deja Vu’s Karline Niver last year.
Niver has brought back lunch service,- making sense in West Redding, which has a lot of white-collar professionals but not so many sit-down lunch spots. The interior design is sleeker and more polished, while the menu has undergone a slight revamping. Service is friendly and helpful, though once in a while it seems as though not all waitstaff has their signals straight about who is waiting on which table – not enough to be problematic, but slightly confusing.
Crispy calamari appetizer, $11.99
Femme de Joie loves calamari but has to admit that most of the time one restaurant’s version is indistinguishable from another’s. Amico del Signore has always been blasé at best about it. But the extra-crunchy calamari accompanied by a spicy roasted tomato cream sauce is much better than most, with crisp breading and just enough heat to elevate this above the average. It made a fan out of A. Del Signore.
House salad, $4.99
You never know if a simple green salad will just be poured out of a giant Costco bag with some bottled dressing. Gironda’s salad is something to look forward to, with house-made dressings and a nice mix of fresh vegetables and greens. We would gladly order a giant bowl of this if it was on the menu.
Roasted apple pizza, small $15.99, large $18.99,
Apple and arugula on a pizza? Why not? Pizza is a suitable vehicle for all kinds of toppings, and it works well here. Enhanced with gorgonzola (a great accompaniment to apples and arugula), salty proscuitto and sweet caramelized onions and roasted garlic, this is a winning combination of flavors and textures on a crisp crust. Warning: one dedicated eater can finish an entire large pizza with ease. Just so you know.
Catch of the day, shrimp picatta on linguine, $24.99
Femme de Joie loved the sharp lemony caper sauce on the shrimp and the pasta. Both were cooked perfectly and were a nice change from overly-buttery scampi presentations. The carrots were not quite cooked and not quite raw, so picking them up to eat seemed like the only possible solution.
Pasta special, $19.99 – Beef Stroganoff with smoked Gouda sauce and New York steak slices on linguine
Smoked cheeses are one of those food that always sound tempting but which M. de Joie usually finds disappointing, a cheap way to cover up bland cheese. However, the judicious use of smoked Gouda in this fanciful version of Stroganoff was the right touch to give the creamy sauce a little oomph and character. The beefy taste of tender strips of New York steak were a good match for the slight smokiness.
Catch of the day, Salmon on fettucine, $21.99
The waitress thought the salmon was a 6-ounce cut but it was more like a 4-ounce cut when it arrived. Moist and flaky, it could have done without the bit of cheese on top, but was still enjoyable with garlicky fettucine. Simply cooked fresh green beans were a pleasant side vegetable.
Femme de Joie likes what the new owner is doing at Gironda’s, from the pared-down, sophisticated decor to the updated wine list. Overall service has been good to exemplary; the food is very good and becoming more innovative while still holding on to the classics. While it isn’t quite a white-tablecloth sort of place, Gironda’s is nevertheless a good place to take a date while casual enough to be comfortable and relaxed. If you haven’t been in a few years, check it out.
Gironda’s Restaurant and Bar, 1100 Center Street at Trinity, Redding CA 96001. 530-244-7663. Open Monday through Thursday, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Friday 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM; Saturday 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Sunday 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Parking lot. Full bar. Cash and cards; no checks. Vegetarian and vegan options. Website at www.girondasitalian.com or follow them on Facebook.