Gioia Chef Luca

I love my job. Although, really and truly, how can you call drawing attention to all the fabulous attributes of my beloved home town of Rancho Mirage “a job”?! Everywhere I turn there’s something to boast about, whether it’s our gorgeous resorts; a year-round, never-ending parade of events; the Palm Springs Valley’s spectacular weather; or the many dining options here for the taking.

On a recent evening, I was invited by the folks at entertainment/retail/dining complex The River on Highway 111 at Bob Hope Drive (www.TheRiverAtRanchoMirage.com) to check out some of the remarkable restaurants it has to offer. As a habitual visitor to this wonderful outdoor mall that offers guests the opportunity to “Shop. Dine. Unwind.,” I’ve sampled—and written about—many of them. But that didn’t stop me from participating and seeing what’s new at some of my old haunts like Yard House (www.YardHouse.com), Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com), bb’s at The River (www.bbsAtTheRiver.com), The Cheesecake Factory (www.TheCheesecakeFactory.com) and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (www.RockyChoc.com).

The evening started at one of the complex’s newest restaurant, Gioia Italian Bistro (www.GioiaItalianBistro.com), conveniently located between the parking lot and the ever-popular Cinemark’s Century Theatres at The River (www.cinemark.com). With authentic Italian fare served in a comfortable and simply appointed open-kitchen space, the young and charming Chef Luca Ricca offered us a delicious taste of some of his signature dishes, including housemade Gnocci Sorrentina and Lasagna Napoletana with meatballs, boiled eggs, and kamorza cheese. Both were delicious and whet my appetite for a future visit, where I’m sure to try out Chef’s much-lauded Polpette e Salsicca (meatballs and sausage) and his Margherita Pizze, made in their super-hot wood-burning oven. Top all that off with a nice glass of Chianti, and I know I’ll be in heaven.

Don’t miss the great fare at The River, and when at Gioia Itailian Bistro, be sure to say “Hi” to handsome Chef Luca and his beautiful manager Giada from their pals Potter Palma and Diana Dodge!