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Dinner: Pietro’s carries on a tradition of fresh, locally produced fare

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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:00 am

When you step out of your car and approach Pietro’s front doors, you’d think you were approaching an Italian villa with a garden full of fresh vegetables such as arugula, eggplant, basil and zucchini.

Pietro and Amelia Murdaca opened this family-style restaurant in 1957. Today, their son Jim and his wife Annette continue to serve some of the best food in town.

Jim Murdaca is always out in the dining area, greeting customers with a huge smile and making sure things are running smoothly.

Jim Murdaca prides the restaurant on using the freshest ingredients possible for every plate.

“The key to being good is fresh ingredients as soon as they’re grown and as soon as you can eat them,” he said.

Jim Murdaca said he still cooks on occasion. When he does work the kitchen, he says he enjoys making pizzas.

“I just love pizzas in general,” he said. “There are so many different kinds you can make.”

He said the most popular pizza is the Roman Special, made with fresh arugula from the garden, San Daniele prosciutto, mozzarella and olive oil.

My personal favorite are their veal dishes, particularly the Veal Parmigiana or Veal Milanese, the latter of which is breaded and topped with Parmesan cheese. It really melts in your mouth.

My wife tends to gravitate toward the soup and salads, or the pasta dishes. She typically orders the Penne el Pietro, which consists of penne pasta with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, prawns and broccoli, all sautéed in a rich and tasty garlic and olive oil sauce.

Pietro’s has an amazing selection of local wines from growers such as Van Ruiten, LangeTwins and Michael~David, among others.

They also have a large selection of wines from all over Italy. Wines are offered by the glass and half bottle.

Because Pietro’s is so popular, it’s probably a good idea to make reservations, especially if you plan on eating there on a weekend. However, they do offer take-out if you don’t want to fight the huge weekend crowds.

Jim Murdaca credits his staff for making his restaurant one of the most popular restaurants in Lodi.

“We have people who have been working here a long time,” he said. “It’s not just one person, it’s this whole team that makes this place what it is.”

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