Yesterday was me and my wife’s 12 year anniversary and my Mom gave us money to go out to lunch at Joe’s of Westlake. Now for those of you who don’t know about Joe’s there used to be several of them in the city but they’ve all gone except for the Joe’s at Westlake. This is an old school Italian restaurant. Think “The Soprano’s” who you go there. Last time I went there was probably 20 year’s ago and our waiter was a guy with grey hair who came up to us in his little waiter jacket and bowtie and I noticed his name was “Vinny”. That is how old school Italian this restaurant is.
I’m not sure who Joe was since as the photo reads, “Bruno Scatena’s Joe’s of Westlake.” Bruno, that name just adds to it. The restaurant is priced about on average with others of this caliber, maybe a little higher. Our meal came to about $57 with the tip for lunch.
So here’s what we had. Karen and I both ordered a Caesar salad to start and I had the Veal Parmigiana and she had the Roast Beef. The service was quick, but unfortunately, “Vinny” no longer works there and we got a very nice young girl who was quick to serve us. The salad came and was a bit overdressed and a little heavy on the anchovies, but if you’re going to a restaurant for the vegetables go to Green’s at Fort Mason. I thought it was pretty good and the croutons weren’t soggy which is always a plus. The main dishes came about 5 minutes after we finished the salads. I have to say I wasn’t expecting the veal portion to be so huge, but it was clearly 16oz of veal. I joked to Karen that maybe this was beef parmigiana instead of veal parmigiana. It had a huge slathering of bolognese sauce and and nice large chunk of parmesan cheese on top that was just starting to burn on the edges. It was moist and delicious, not tough like some veal gets from excess pounding. You get a choice of sides with your meal: spaghetti, rigatoni or ravioli. Again, more old school. I chose the ravioli and Karen chose the rigatoni. Karen’s roast beef was cut from a cross rib roast which I don’t usually like, but they managed to cook it like it was prime rib. The slab of meat was floating on a jus sauce that just helped everything along.
We didn’t try too hard to finish it all as we knew it was too much food and they packed it up for us to bring home and the leftovers fed three of us for dinner. While I wouldn’t give them a 10 overall, it was one of those San Francisco experiences you have to have at least once. The funniest part about Joe’s is their Joe’s Special. It is essentially ground beef, spinach, onions and mushrooms all cooked and mixed together and served on a big plate with absolutely nothing else. You of course get bread with your meal and that’s good for sopping up the stray juices from Joe’s Special, but still that mixture doesn’t sound as Italian as you’d think an Italian restaurant would have as it’s special. My Mom also raves about their big fat hamburgers. I’ll have to try one of those when I go back because they’re served on Italian sourdough bread not a bun. The couple next to us had the Joe’s Special and one of their burgers and I have to admit they both looked good even if the Joe’s Special looked kind of like something like you might be served in a Russian prison, but hey it’s a San Francisco tradition.
Oh, and lastly if you go ask for a table in the Cascade Room. The main room is a bit like Denny’s, but the Cascade Room has the white table clothes and nice booths and is generally more quiet. As you walk inside you might want to take a look at the bar. It’s got it’s own separate room where if you don’t want to be seen it’ll be easy as it’s very dark and the bartender is standing there whistling while he’s wiping down the glasses.
Check it out!