Inspired by Melanies report and photo from a recent visit to Joes in SF, I decided to checkout Joes of El Sobrante. Not part of the other Joes restaurants. This restaurant is run by Joe
of El Sobrante.
Opened in 1978 I would have bet not one thing (except the waitresses) have changed at this restaurant, not the menu, not the décor, not the customers, not the music.
I would have lost that bet. Joe redid the restaurant in 2002.
Just before posting, I decided to Google to see if there was any info on Joes. I was shocked to see Joes has a website. He also comes from a family that ran quite a few restaurants in the Bay Area - Paper Joes (South San Francisco), Italian Village (San Mateo), Italian Villa (San Leandro), Vito's (Walnut Creek), the Villa (Santa Clara), Jenna's (Castro Valley).
Joe, who opened the restaurant after college. is now in his 50s. Im guessing that the restaurants run by his aunts and uncles are just memories now. Just as Coruso's Restaurant on Taylor St in San Francisco is a memory. Joes grandfather opened that SF restaurant in 1947 after selling his pizzerias in Chicago and moving to the city.
The menu is of that era classic Italian-American pizzas and pasta.
The menu says all pizzas are made on house made crust and sauce. Original, thin, medium and thick crusts are available. Sizes are small (8 slices), medium, large, extra-large and giant (16 slices).
Because this wasnt part of the original Joes group, I decided to pass on the steak. That might have been a mistake because looking at the menu, they have steak pizza with mushrooms, onions and green peppers. They also have calzone with a choice of two pizza ingredients.
They serve steamed mussels and clams ($7.95)
Sandwiches which come with pasta and soup or salad include salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, meatball, roast beef, tuna melt, burger, sausage and peppers.
Diners include soup, salad and garlic bread. All of this for $9.95 - $18.95 (NY Steak). Most of the dinners are in the 10 11 dollar range. Classic dishes: lasagna, stuffed manicotti, veal parmigiano, chicken parmigiano, ravioli, baked ravioli, baked mmostaccioli, spaghetti and meatballs. Thats it.
Whew. All of that just to talk about a meatball sandwich.
The meatballs were good with parsley and other Italian spices. I would say the best in the immediate area and there was lots of mozzarella cheese and a nice thick red sauce. The roll was of the soft variety and a flaw, IMO. The minestrone was a tomato soup with lots of cabbage and a few beans and pieces of pasta. Ill try the salad next time, but it looked to be of the iceberg variety. The spaghetti wasnt drained enough and not al dente, but the meat sauce was pretty good.
On Wednesday night, most of the seats at the bar were filled as were a good number of tables. It seemed like quite a few regulars, and Joe was at the bar making drinks.
I never looked in the back restaurant and just sat at a table by the window in the bar area. I was really surprised to see the website said it seated 100. It has the look and feel of a place in a time warp. It could be 1978.
There were some really impressive, almost poster sized black and white photos of Sinatra on the wall. There was Sinatra alone, with a young Elvis, and with the rat pack. I have a friend very into Sinatra and I havent seen these pictures before. Hed love them.
Two of the four TVs in the bar were silently playing sporting events. The radio was tuned to the oldies station. I wonder what Mary Hill of Cherry Hill Park is doing these days? Shes probably a grand mother now and is no longer a thrill after dark. That song is just going to play in my head all night now.
Joes of El Sobrante
4203 Valley View Rd
El Sobrante, CA
Tuesday through Sunday 4-10 p.m.