Friday, November 29, 2013

A Jewel of the Delta

Chuck and I have been captivated by the California Delta since our first visit with his cousin Barbara about four years ago. While you won’t find gators or ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss (but you will find crawfish), this unique area always reminds us of the Louisiana bayous.
“The California Delta is located roughly between Sacramento on the north and Stockton on the south and encompasses about 1,000 miles of waterways. The main contributing rivers are the Sacramento River, coming in from the north, and the San Joaquin River, coming in from the south…. Before these rivers empty into the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay, they pass through…a labyrinth of sloughs with names like Potato Slough, Whites Slough, Snodgrass Slough, Lost Slough, Georgiana Slough, Steamboat Slough, and many, many more.
As one explores these watery avenues, vistas of vine-covered trees, blackberry brambles, and tule grasses appear at almost every turn. There is abundant wildlife, including the great blue heron, egrets, ducks, geese, and, of course, fish…” (
But residents and friends of the Delta believe that it is under attack and signs reading “Save the Delta/Stop the Tunnels can be found everywhere because “…a huge development plan is underway in Sacramento that, if implemented, will change this quiet agricultural region forever.
“Nothing is final yet, but Gov. Jerry Brown, along with many colleagues and agricultural water users south of Stockton, hope to build a new water-diversion system: a pair of giant tunnels, each 40 feet wide and 39 miles long, that are capable of carrying away two-thirds of the Sacramento River’s water…the $25 billion-plus plan will secure water for Southern California cities and Central Valley farmers, and also restore the Delta’s troubled ecosystem.

“But here in the Delta area of Sacramento County, most people want the tunnel project stopped. They say it will suck the Delta dry, destroy farming business in Northern California and kill the ecosystem” (

And here in the Delta is an area dining institution—Giusti’s.
“On the North Fork of the Mokelumne River, by the Miller’s Ferry Bridge in Walnut Grove, the Delta traveler will take delight in the family-style dining at this 1940s restaurant. Or is it a 1912 restaurant? Mark Morais, the owner of this four-generation family tradition, clarified this: ‘The building was built in 1900. In 1912, it became my grandfather’s place–a saloon, general store, and toll station for the ferry. We always served food (to workers, friends, and other guests), but we didn’t start charging until 1946 or ’47.’ The jury is in–we’ll go with the ’40s. The building is set against a levee separating the river from the sub-sea-level land that Giusti’s is built upon. The restaurant is a favorite with locals and travelers alike…” (Doug Fetterly at

The restaurant can best be described as “no frills.” “When you pull up to Giusti's expect ‘eclectic.’ We're a building that's been standing for over 100 years and it shows in both the exterior and interior…. Some may think of us as an eyesore, but to many, Giusti's is a ‘visual feast’ for the eyes. Giusti's is a history that speaks for itself and over the years we have tried and continue to try to keep as much of its history as possible. After all, it is what gives our place a particular and unique ambience” (

You enter through the bar and you immediately notice the hats attached to the ceiling.
“There are over 1,200 hats on our ceiling and tons of memorabilia plastered on our walls.
"There are almost 300 framed pictures of Giusti's memories that hang in our bar. Most of the pictures…are of recognizable sports celebrities, movie stars, media personalities, government officials, local celebrities, and family members whom have visited or been a part of Giusti's over the years…” (
Giusti’s lunch menu is short and changes daily. And to honor the family’s Italian heritage, they usually offer one of more Italian specialties. On the day of our visit, they were the fettuccini alfredo and chicken cacciatore. And all dinners come with your choice of soup or salad, Pugliese bread that is made in house, and a carafe of wine for the table.

All three of us chose the soup over the salad and it was served “family style” in a large bowl for apportioning among the diners. This is (to me, at least) a unique take on Italian minestrone and contains beans, barley, carrots, and celery but little, if any, tomato.
But it is a robust and filling soup and is a good indication of the rather simple but excellent food to come.

Barbara’s lunch choice was the pulled pork sandwich with a side of coated fries.
Chuck selected the fettuccini alfredo, which, like the minestone, was a somewhat unusual preparation.
The pasta was nicely cooked and the sauce was nicely creamy without being overly rich. But I was surprised—and a bit put off—by the strong taste of garlic which is not normally used in alfredo sauce.

I was tempted by the chicken cacciatore, but finally chose the grilled oysters.
While I am sure that the chicken would have been delicious, the oysters were superb. The four lightly breaded mollusks were, as described by John Wallace at, “perfectly grilled…sweet, fresh, and succulent….”

“One can often judge the quality of a restaurant by observing the diners. Everyone was smiling and talking, including the servers. It’s a friendly, homespun, yet intimate atmosphere. The historic building and accoutrements silently speak of Delta families’ traditions of dining and socializing at a favorite stop…” (John Wallace at And it has also become one of our favorites and earns a 4.5 Addie rating. (I didn’t like the garlic in the alfredo sauce.)

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.


eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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