By August 6, 2014 Read More →

BarView – Gervasoni’s

By Kate Serpa
Photos by Philip Johnson

Family Jewels: Gervasoni’s Food & Spirits
Ah yes, August — the worst month of the entire year. Still desperately hanging on to the coattails of summer, too much of a wuss to commit to fall, the last golden month before school starts up again — and doesn’t it seem everyone and their mother gets married in August? Like more weddings than I have sticks to shake at them? And all the damn events are outdoors! Not that I don’t respect the sacred ceremonial union of a couple, I’m just kind of busy at present trying to figure out which merlot pairs the best with my breakfast burrito.

Phil and I have been busy though — I feel like we should both receive honorary history degrees for covering so many of Modesto’s most established watering holes; we’re basically the official Modesto docents of drinking locations. Minnie’s, The Other Place, The Running Iron, and the Brave Bull are all top contenders, but Phil pointed out recently that we’re missing the final jewel of our bar-tour tiaras — Gervasoni’s Food and Spirits.

Mother daughter duo Rosalie Clark and Serena Sisson operate as both co-owners and managers of Gervasoni’s. Though this is their first family restaurant venture, both Rosa and Serena hold extensive experience in the back and the front of the house respectively — quite the practical pairing. The two bought Gervasoni’s from long-time owner and namesake Gary Gervasoni (who is still steps in regularly) two years ago come October.

What sets Gervasoni’s apart from any other bar in Modesto? “I think it’s the ambiance,” states Rosa. “Many people have said that this place reminds them of the bars in San Francisco. We are not just any dive — we’re one of the oldest restaurants in Modesto. People are leery about this place, the things we have on the walls, but we love it.” In case you are unawares, the ‘things’ Rosa refers to are backlit windows of stained glass, a scattered collection of meticulously done model ships, photos of patrons ranging from black and white yesteryear to digital-recent, along with a variety of antiques. Serena agrees, stating, “Everything has a different feel here — that’s what makes it unique. Almost every restaurant/bar you go into in Modesto is always updating their surroundings. We decided to keep the personality here.” Chimes Rosa, “We didn’t change a thing about the atmosphere.”

I know I’m overstepping bounds when I talk about the kitchen, but Gervasoni’s is also offering items that are certainly eye opening in Modesto — huge racks of lamb, sweet breads, pigs feet, frog legs, and a weekly Wednesday Basque dinner are a few of the favorite items. Patio seating and one of the only two indoor fire pits in town (the other’s at Tiki) are additions to the Gervasoni’s pro list. And oh, yes — the bar. The real reason we’re both here.

Gervasoni’s bar holds everyone’s favorites. It’s not sprawling with 30 flavors of vodka, but is a compact collection of select items that you and I order. A Manhattan for you “Mad Men” types, watermelon lemon drops for you fancy types, draft and bottles of hops, a wine list ample enough to enhance any dinner, and a big bottle of Beefeater on the top shelf I’m trying to figure out how to get my sticky hands on. Inquire within about drink specials during Giants and A’s games.

Gervasoni’s is saving my August: a dimly lit bar, off the beaten path, with plenty to drink and plenty more to look at — a Modesto jewel indeed. 712 9th Street, Modesto, CA 209.523-1961<>

Posted in: featured, food & drink

About the Author:

Kate Serpa does not live in Modesto, CA, nor does she attend court-reporting school. She has not played for the piano for a number of years and she is definitely not excited about helping out at the McHenry Museum. She detests drinking, bar hopping, and late night adventures, and thinks girls who dye their hair red are disgraceful. She has absolutely zero sense of humor and is boring as hell.