Going Back to Our Founding Principles Made from Scratch, the History of Florentine of Grandville
The history of Florentine starts in 1971. It was opened as just a take-out—no restaurant, no bar that you see over here, none of this stuff was here—a regular take-out.
It was added on in pieces, I believe in four different pieces, and then it was sold in 1985, actually ’84, and I started working for the ownership in ’86—February. So I never worked for the original owner. I worked for the second generation owners—Andy Jaffas and Marino Levas. And so at that point I thought, you know, I was using old world recipes, and being a 15, 16-year-old kid what do I know? You know? So then we bought the restaurant in ’96, and then Tony decided to come back and help us out to get us back to the original recipes.
So when he came back in here, and I am looking at what he’s doing compared to what I was taught to do by the Greek ownership, and he is a full-blooded Italian, and so he’s making it this way, and I am looking at this, and I am like this is really a lot better, so we’ve had him change over and show me how he used to do it back in the early ‘70s, and we are all the way back to that now because the stuff is fantastic. You just can’t get this stuff anywhere. It’s unbelievably good. We’ve always had really good meat sauce here, but Tony said, hey, you know, try it like this, and he made up this batch of meat sauce, and I am looking at it, and it’s actually got a little sheen on it, and it’s a little bit brighter than ours, you know, because the tomato isn’t quite as red. I am like that looks really good, so I tried some of it, and I am like oh, my goodness, this stuff is phenomenal, you know? How did you make this? So he gave us the recipe obviously for it, and also the pizza sauce.
Now, our pizza has always been really, really good here, just excellent, but we decided to make it a little bit different, and Tony said here’s how I used to do it, and he made up this batch of sauce, and I am looking at, you know, both sauces again, and I tried his and tried ours, even though ours was good, it’s just not as good. It’s just a major improvement. Those are the two big things that we really changed here.
Some people have come in here for the first time in a decade, a decade and a half, two decades, and say this is what I remember. This is the flavor I remember, whether it was the sauce for the pizza, whether it was the Alfredo sauce, or you know, all this stuff, the majority of this stuff on the menu right now is the same as it was back in the ‘70s as far as the names of the dishes. The fettuccine Alfredo, the veal picada, the spaghettis and all that. What we did was is we took it to a different level with the pasta with our pasta machine. We extrude every single noodle on premise here. We get the semolina in. We mix it with the eggs. We mix it, and then we put the dyes on it. We do all of that, and that pasta, if you’ve never had homemade, fresh pasta, you are really missing out because it is so much better. It’s got some nice texture to it. If you get a store-bought noodle, or like a can of Franco-American, you put a bite in your mouth, and it like dissolves, you know, it just dissolves in your mouth. It’s like eating almost like mush. This has actual texture to it, actual base to it, and it’s just phenomenal, phenomenal noodles.
The main thing that we make here obviously is the pasta, you know, get the semolina in. We get the eggs in, and then go through the whole bit of mixing it and replacing dyes, and doing the whole bit getting that, but then we also do our own sausage here, and for that we use pork butts. We cut those, season them, run ‘em through the grinder. We grind our own cheese here. We make all of our dough here. We make all of our own sauces here whether it’s Alfredo, for example, I have seen Alfredo sauce in bags, right? And the bagged stuff is probably decent, you know, I really don’t care for it too awful much. I make Alfredo butter here, and then use my stuff, my heavy whipping cream, my ingredients along with that butter to make an Alfredo sauce that truly is unique, and you just can’t find it anywhere else, and I have had fettuccine in other places. I always try it. It’s always just not quite as good. I think you would have to be a chef in order to make the stuff at home that we make here. I really believe that because you can’t just—you can’t just go to the store and buy a can of tomatoes, buy some salt and pepper, and then figure out, okay, how do I mix this stuff together, you know, people can cook at home, and they can be good at it, but when you talk about a restaurant that has 40, 50, 60 year lineage along with a person who’s been in the business for that long, along with a person who has the recipes for maybe even 100 years ago for all I know. I don’t know where these recipes came from. You cannot find those flavors.
Sounds delicious, check out the full Florentine of Grandville menu!