Gino’s Italian Ristorante, 3015 W. McMillan Road, recently introduced a new dinner menu, one that’s more manageable for diners and the kitchen staff alike.
The menu at the popular Meridian restaurant had become a tome over the years.
“It got too big, too many choices. People just got confused,” chef and owner Gino Vuolo said.
With that in mind, Vuolo and his chef de cuisine, Andrew Martinez, came up with a scaled-down version that’s supplemented with several new Mediterranean-leaning dishes.
“People are really liking the new menu,” Vuolo said. “We made it a lot easier to read.”
New menu items include scratch-made “Nudi” gnocchi ($13; spinach-ricotta gnocchi with butter, garlic, pine nuts and a bubbling Reggiano Parmigiano crust) and cauliflower gremolata ($13), a roasted cauliflower steak smothered with raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs and a sweet and tart agrodolce sauce.
They also modified a few of the restaurant’s venerable dishes. For example, the slow-cooked tomato sauce for the spaghetti Bolognese ($16) is now made with veal, sausage, beef, smoked porcini mushrooms, red wine, rosemary and lots of garlic. The pasta al granchio ($21) also received a makeover. With this one, a tangle of al dente linguine — tossed with olive oil, sautéed shallot and garlic, fresh plum tomato, pine nuts, sage and basil — gets crowned with a grilled king crab leg.
Don’t worry, though. You can still score plenty of Gino’s longtime classics, including entrée-size salads, brick-oven pizzas and calzones, and appetizers such as beef carpaccio ($11) and manila clams steamed with white wine, garlic and parsley ($14).
And let’s not forget all those legendary shanks ($30-$35; smoked boar, lamb and traditional osso buco) that get braised long and low with San Marzano tomatoes, wine, garlic, onion and basil, then served with potato gnocchi.
Plus, Gino’s offers two weekly specials: one fish and one meat item. Expect to find lamb chops, hand-cut steaks, fresh-as-can-be finfish and more.
Martinez has pretty much been taking care of the day-to-day kitchen operations, especially now that Vuolo has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Vuolo said that he is starting to feel better and expects to be back in the kitchen soon.
“I still have some good years left in me, that’s for sure,” Vuolo said.
Gino’s opened in Downtown Boise in 1996. Vuolo had much success at that location — next to Shige Japanese Cuisine where Ramen Sho now resides — before making the insightful decision in 2009 to move to a new development in a burgeoning stretch of Meridian, at Ten Mile and McMillan roads.
“People told me I was crazy to move out there,” he said.
“It turned out to be a good idea because everything has kind of filled in around us.”
Vuolo has plans to remodel the lounge area in the coming months, which will add another 30 seats for diners. He expects it to be completed by June.
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Dinner: 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
For reservations, call 208-887-7710.