Photo by Brian Kaiser.

Old School, New School

Welcome back to Old School/New School, your local guide for a great dinner and nightcap. The rules are simple: your destinations for dinner and a nightcap can be either an older or newer concept, but they can’t be both and you have to be able to walk from one destination to another. For this edition, we are having dinner at a Bexley institution followed by glass of wine at the new place next door. This is going to be fun.

GIUSEPPE’S RITROVO 2268 E Main St.

Giuseppe’s Ritrovo is the kind of place that is hard to imagine the neighborhood without. The kind of place where, according to owners Vesna and Giuseppe Mangano, dinner isn’t served to customers, but to friends. It’s the kind of place where you can celebrate a baptism or celebrate the memory of a family member. You are going to dig it.

Originally opened twenty-two years ago, Giuseppe’s was first a coffee shop with a takeout selection of prepared food including pastas, sauces and sandwiches. It didn’t take long for word to spread or for customers to start asking for the food to be prepped and served to them. You know, like in a restaurant.

According to Vesna, “In less than two weeks, we were making food for customers. We didn’t have any idea what we were doing and for a time served the meals on our wedding china.” As business grew, operations expanded and eventually the current model of Giuseppe’s was opened.
Sporting a small but sleek patio with a view of Main Street, a large curated (don’t say stocked) bar, and both a dining room and a private dining area, Giuseppe’s simultaneously looks classic and modern and offers both contemporary and classic Italian fare representing all Italian regions. Pro tip: Get the lamb shank special if it is offered during your next visit.

The recipes can be attributed to Giuseppe himself, who in his own words: “has been around food my whole life.” Raised in the region of Reggio Calabria (the most southern tip of the Italian boot), Giuseppe can make all things Italian, reps the spices from his home in the South of Italy, and endorses classic entrees.

Vesna, on the other hand, is fond of the pizzas, which led to some good natured banter between the two about the challenges of working with your spouse. Finishing each other’s sentences and interjecting themselves into each other’s anecdotes, the Manganos are truly a team and the restaurant is certainly a family business—so much so that both of their fathers have worked in the restaurant, along with Vesna’s brother and a host of other family members.

Serving up classic Italian comfort food, treating customers like family, and having the ability to make each other laugh has led to the Manganos hosting more than a few famous clientele dining at Giuseppe’s. In 2015, The Rolling Stones (specifically Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger) stopped by for dinner and according to their road manager, had the most normal dining-out experience in decades. John Glenn and wife Annie were regulars for years, and unlike The Stones, Glenn was always happy to sign an autograph or to talk to a child about being a real life spaceman.

Now that you have met some awesome people, eaten a great meal and imbibed a top-shelf cocktail, let’s walk outside and travel one door to the west for that nightcap.

HOUSE WINE 2262 E Main St.

House Wine has been in Worthington for more than a decade, but their Bexley location has only been open since July of 2018 (therefore qualifying for my arbitrary rules). However, in that short amount of time, House Wine has made a splash on the local scene and is helping introduce locals to affordable, quality wines as well as local and regional craft beer.

House Wine is quaint and cozy and makes the most of their limited space. Four seats at the bar, three small tables, and one large table that is perfect for a group of eight, are your seating options. And that makes House Wine a great location for that cozy after-dinner glass of wine. Or bottle. That’s why Uber was created.

House Wine certainly has the ability to be pretentious, but isn’t—the result of owner/operator Donnie Austin’s philosophy on owning a wine shop. Austin reports, “I want to offer my customers great wine and great beer without breaking the bank.” Mission accomplished.

And Austin should know what makes wine great. He quit his job as an engineer at Honda to follow his wine passion, which would eventually lead to becoming a sommelier and then opening two wine shops.

A draw to the store and a fun way to learn about wine is the Enomatic wine dispenser, which in essence is a vending machine for wine. Offering sixteen different varietals and coming in one, three, or five ounce pours, this machine (along with assistance from a store employee to help guide you) is a great way to sample different nightcaps.

I know some readers are thinking about how they love wine, but that their significant other loves beer, and therefore this Old School/New School may not be for them. No worries friend, House Wine has you covered and offers eight taps of craft beers as well a full selection of chilled cans and bottles. You can even fill up your growler at House Wine. You just have to take it home to drink it.

House Wine does not offer food selections, but does allow for you to bring in food from any local Bexley restaurant. In fact, you can even place a carry out order at Giuseppe’s and bring it into House Wine to eat. (Although, you might miss seeing Mick Jagger.)
So there you have it: a blueprint for some delicious grub while making new friends, followed by a quaint and cozy wine nightcap. Park once, drink twice, support local.

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