The year was 1967 and Giuseppe (Joe) Bertolone had returned home to beautiful Marina di Andora located on the Italian Riviera in the region of Liguria. He was there to visit family after taking some time off from working in the heart of London where he had been perfecting his love for cooking while working at an Italian restaurant in the infamous Picadilly Circus.
With his love for food, Joe entered into a small café, but instead of remembering the dish he ate, a more permanent memory would be etched upon his heart. “It was love at first sight”, Joe would recall, as he spoke of the moment when he first laid eyes on the woman who would soon become his wife.
Elvira was a vibrant, beautiful young woman. She too, shared a love for cooking as she was learning to cook as an apprentice at the small café. However, Joe and Elvira would share more than just a love for cooking; they would share a love for each other.
In 1977, Joe and Elvira, along with their two children Michael and Sonia, began a new journey. They moved to California, settling down in Gilroy, a small town south of San Francisco. Known as the “Garlic Capitol of the World”, it was the perfect fit for an Italian family who enjoyed cooking old world Italian recipes.
It was in Gilroy where the first Bertolone family restaurant would be established in 1981. Joe’s Italian became a landmark, a local favorite that would be featured in the Library of Congress’ travelling exhibit, Italian-Americans in the West, and also in cooking competitions on the Food Network.
Giuseppe (Joe) Bertolone passed away in 2013, but his legacy continues to live through his children. Joe’s daughter, Sonia, is a seasoned restaurateur having owned the successful Joe’s Italian in Alabaster. She continues in her parents’ footsteps doing what her family loves and does best, cooking and bringing smiles to those who enjoy the meals that started 35 years ago in that small California town.
Everyone who comes to dine at Bertolone Italian Café becomes family and they “Taste the love.”
Bertolone's located at 605 Second Avenue North in Downtown Clanton, Alabama