Lexington, KY – Lexington is as ripe with quality Italian restaurants as the Mediterranean country is with priceless pieces of art, opera singers and foot-in-mouth prime ministers. Emblazoned at the top of this list must be Giuseppe’s Ristorante Italiano on Old Nicholasville Road near the outskirts of Fayette County’s southern boundary.
With a comfortable, but formal atmosphere in the dining room, as well as a more casual but still upscale dining area in the bar, the dim-lighting and dark shades add an elegant atmosphere throughout the restaurant.
On a cursory glance, the menu looks like a short affair with only two pages, but upon closer inspection any diner would soon realize that the menu is a tightly stuffed tortellini of interesting choices, each dish demanding attention and consideration before leading to frustration that you only have one mouth to feed.
The appetizer selection includes items inherent with Italian restaurants -
fried calamari, fried artichoke hearts and cheese sticks (here, “mozzarella impanata”) -
along with a few gripping items -
funghi al forno (baked mushroom caps with sausage, cream cheese, onion and peppers), arancini (fried risotto balls with prosciutto and fontina cheese) and caliente style calamari (tossed in buffalo sauce, sautÈed with onions and bell and banana peppers). Most of these items cost $8 – $10 ($14 for crab cakes).
The entrÈe menu is broken down into five sections: specialties (such as maiale arrosto -
pork tenderloin marinated in dijon mustard -
and chicken pepperoni), chicken and veal dishes (served on a bed of spaghetti or with the vegetable of the day), pastas (including Pitino’s Pasta, with shrimp, spinach, Kalamata olives in a white wine sauce, and “Tortellini alla Panna e Pesto,” with prosciutto and asparagus in a cream and pesto sauce), fish and seafood, and “manzo” (beef). These items are priced $16 – $30, and are incredibly difficult to choose between.
Each entrÈe is served with soup or a house salad, which you can upgrade to a number of equally enticing salads: caprese, Gorgonzola, “Giuseppe” (with salami, prosciutto, boiled egg, mushrooms and other vegetables), Italian wedge, spinach and Caesar.
As an appetizer, we had an order of arancini. For dinner, my guest ordered the catch of the day special, butterfish with a lemon-caper sauce, and I requested the tortellini in pesto and cream sauce. All of these items were superb, and neither of us had any difficulty cleaning our plates.
Giuseppe’s also has a lengthy wine list, with about 10 red and white wines available by the glass, and dozens of domestic and Italian selections (both red and white) available by the bottle.
Our bill, prior to tipping, came to $105 and included an appetizer, two entrees, two salads, some adult beverages, dessert and two coffees -
an expensive meal, but one my guest and my stomach thoroughly enjoyed in an intimate atmosphere.
Giuseppe’s also offers a lunch menu during the week with smaller portions than some of the dinner menu items, along with a handful of items (such as sandwiches) that are only available for lunch.
As the weather begins to take a turn for the best, you must consider a visit to their handsome patio area.