Papa Gianni’s Ristorante
● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
If you haven’t been to Papa Gianni’s, you probably haven’t lived in the area too long.
Even with a short list of authentic Italian eateries in Cameron Park, Papa Gianni’s has garnered quite a following over the years with penne-loving patrons from all over stopping by the neighborhood establishment.
This was definitely the case on my recent outing to pick up a little pasta puttanesca. On a rainy Tuesday evening, I arrived just in time to miss the dinner rush. As I waited for my to-go order of Pasta alla Puttanesca, Pollo Parmesan, and Tortellini Alfredo, I couldn’t help but notice how many people were filing into the joint. The warm familial dining room was quite full, and there were even more carryout orders picked up and placed at the counter as I sat and sipped my El Dorado County Syrah (yes, they have a great wine list with many local favorites). The popularity of the place, combined with the absolutely delicious smelling wafts of garlic bread in the air, excited me for the Italian feast to come at home.
Spread out on the kitchen counter, the dinners were nicely packaged and came with salad and garlic bread. The house Creamy Italian Dressing is to die for and worth a trip all on its own. Puttanesca, if you haven’t had it before, is a simple pasta dish with penne, black olives, capers, mushrooms and anchovies tossed in a rich marinara sauce and topped with a little Parmesan cheese. And Papa Gianni’s did not disappoint; their version of this classic dish ranks up with the best I’ve ever had. Equally tasty is their Tortellini Alfredo – the sauce is no joke, and one that you won’t find in any jar. I ate nearly two dishes by myself…but luckily there were leftovers for lunch the next day. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, stop in Papa Gianni’s, chances are you’ll see someone you know!