The Gallo-Martin family’s first full-service restaurant, Gallo’s, opened in 1997 in Los Gatos, though their history in food service and catering goes back 30 years.
In 2011, the family opened their second restaurant, Giuseppe Gallo’s Capo di Cucina, right here in Clovis on the southeast corner of Willow and Nees, with Gary and Cheryl Martin now taking over for Gary’s parents, who started it all.
The Clovis location has done well from the beginning and it wasn’t long before they were ready to expand. The new location, Capo’s by Giuseppe Gallo’s, on Palm and Nees, was a possibility because of the abundance of family support at the Clovis location. The Fresno location allows for more catering, larger parties and banquets. The Clovis location is still very much its own, and is more of a family spot with many neighborhood regulars.
“It’s awesome,” Cheryl Martin said. “You can count on the same people coming in every night. I love our little store. It’s family.” Many members of the family continue to be very involved with both locations – baking, cooking, bartending and managing.
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Capo’s offers a much larger dining area and a full bar with more happy hour options, but is otherwise the same as Giuseppe Gallo’s – they offer the same menu, made by the same chefs. The consistency between the two locations is very important to the family, and that is why Gary and the chefs he’s trained go back and forth to ensure the food is always made the same way.
The signature dish, Nonna’s Ravioli, is just a slightly adapted version of a roughly 120-year-old family recipe. Its popularity is no surprise – the hand-rolled pillow style ravioli — stuffed with a mixture of spinach, house beef grind, pork sausage and cheese—is delicious, both with the meat or the butter parmesan sauce.
Typically, I don’t indulge in more than an entrée, if I can even finish that much. I just don’t have the will power. However, maybe it was just the right day, but at Giuseppe Gallo’s, I had to go all out – appetizer, entrée, wine, dessert, coffee.
Maybe it’s the relaxed, homey ambiance that just made it feel right. Maybe it was that combined with the fact that everything on the menu sounded like something I had to have.
I knew from the beginning that I was going to have cake. I’d heard too much about the Limoncello Cake to pass it up. And then there’s the seasonal Thin Mint Cake, made with real Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.
“We buy Girl Scout Cookies from our neighbors, from our customers, from friends,” Martin said. “People go nuts over it.”
Rightly so. We’re talking about cookies, turned into a cake. It’s my personal opinion that dessert at restaurants is an opportunity that is too often missed. There are a select few places with signature desserts that you have to get every time – even if you’re full. It has to be done. Giuseppe Gallo’s joins those ranks.
“What I love about this location is that so many customers live in this neighborhood right behind us,” Martin said. “People walk over around 9 p.m., having already eaten dinner, just to get some cake and coffee.”
The signature cakes, which are also made fresh daily, can be purchased by the slice or whole if you order ahead of time.
The entire menu utilizes Fresno-grown produce and other local ingredients. “We have several vendors that we use to make sure we get the best of what we want and the freshest of everything,” Martin said. “It takes a lot of research. It’s better than getting everything out of one truck, not knowing what you’re getting.” Other local options include Fresno State wines, and beers from Tioga-Sequoia Brewery, as well as many more semi-local wine and beer choices.
They take pride in the fact that everything is handcrafted, Martin said. Nothing is prepared beforehand. Everything down to the sauce is made to order so it’s always fresh.
The sausage is ground in-house, and fresh rolls are baked throughout the day and served with garlic olive oil. The craft aspect, Martin said, is really getting more popular in Clovis. More people are starting to appreciate and favor the family-oriented craft cuisine to more speedy corporate restaurants.
When Cheryl, who was born and raised in Clovis, announced that she and her husband would be opening Giuseppe Gallo’s, one response went something like: “Another Italian restaurant in Clovis? Good luck.” Though Martin rejects the idea that there’s too much Italian food in the area, or even that they’re too similar. “We’re all different,” she said. And it’s more friendly than competitive. Martin is happy to see more craft restaurants popping up in Clovis and Fresno. “We support each other and we visit other locally-owned restaurants as much as we can,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of support in Clovis. We feel very blessed.”