Historic Teresa’s is a Survivor Tale
By Antoinette May Herndon
I’ve been writing Foothill Flavors for 16 months now. Every week. That’s a lot of restaurants. It’s fun to write enthusiastically about neat people cooking and serving good things. For the most part that’s what it’s been.
Writing a dining column is an ongoing adventure, each experience unique and challenging in one way or another. It’s always exciting to try out new places. A few out there are terrific “10’s”. Most are at least “7’s” or at least “6’s.”
Variety is the spice of life, I keep hearing, but does that make the golden oldies any less special?
Teresa’s Place in Jackson is an old favorite with lots personal connections and memories that extend far beyond the dining diva assignment. Charles and I played the dating game there and then the newly wed game. In the past nearly eight years, as settled in Mother Lodians, we’ve entertained countless out-of- towners with equanimity at Teresa’s. Nary a disappointment.
You can count on Teresa’s Place. That’s why I picked it for a recent holiday celebration. On the way to Teresa’s we passed the sites of two former favorites, Buscaglia and Bonanza. Sadly, they’ve closed their doors. Those empty shells called to mind other goodies— Cravings in Ione, the City Hotel in Columbia, and 498 in Murphys—that are no longer with us.
Warning: local restaurants need our business or they’ll disappear out of our lives forever.
Happily, Teresa’s Place
is a story of historic survival. It began more than 100 years ago when the first Teresa immigrated from Italy and opened a boarding house in Jackson. With the food on her table was so good, could a restaurant be far behind?
That was a rootin’ tootin’ era for Jackson and Teresa’s Place still retains some speakeasy ambience, perhaps a throwback to those naughty days. I just know the Godfather would eat there if he was in town. He’d love the easy laughter that pervades the place, the smell of good food and the sound of ongoing Frank Sinatra recordings. It Was a Very Good Year . . .
Charles and I remain regular fans, returning like homing pigeons to the consistently good food. We particularly crave the ravioli and minestrone soup. Salads are good too. Often we make a meal of just those three. ($14.95) Another favorite is mezzo mezzo, also $14.95—half ravioli, half spaghetti laced in rich marinara sauce. It too is served with soup and salad.
On our most recent visit we discovered that Teresa’s has added a state of the art pizza oven and an array of pizzas specialties to the menu. Tossing pizzas is quite an art form and it’s fun to watch Anthony Giurlani, a descendant of the famous Teresa, in action. Anthony’s brother, Adam, has enhanced the menu with eight signature pizzas, but adds that guests may also design their own creations.
A perfect complement to the pizzas is the restaurant’s new beer list. There’s a dazzling array of imports ($4) as well as exciting craft brews like Barney Flats Oatmeal Stoat and Turbodog brown
ale at $4 and $5.
Both the pizza and beer offerings looked inviting, but Charles and I had picked Teresa’s that night because we were in an Italian kind of mood. Charles absolutely had to have spaghetti with meatballs. ($16.95) It was a half carafe of burgundy for us. ($7)
Despite the new temptations, what I really, really wanted (and ordered) was paolo toscano, a well flavored 12 oz. top cut sirloin steak cooked exactly as I wanted it. ($16.99) Twelve ounces is a lot. About half of it went home with me in one of those cute little plastic boxes. Chloe and I paw wrestled over it the next day.
“Mother” Teresa’s early boarding house days survive in the shared family style presentation. It’s fun serving the crisp green salads to one another and ladling the rich, hearty soup into multiple bowls. These are included in the dinner. For me, that warm caring, sharing tradition is part of the appeal of Teresa’s Place, perhaps its truest survival skill. What do you think?
VITALS: Teresa’s Place. 1235 Jackson Circle Rd. Jackson. Phone: 223-1786. Open Sundays from 2 p.m. until 8, Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. until 8:30. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. Open for lunch Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Friday night from 5 to 9. Open Saturday from 5 p.m. until 8:30. Credit cards accepted.
The enticing bar at Teresa’s Place whispers of Jackson’s naughtier days.
The dining room at Teresa’s Place has a warm, welcoming feeling. Leonardo Gabriel was the server from heaven.