The Cuisine Scene
Guy's Italian Restaurant
Last Wednesday I had a delightful experience at a small restaurant in Banning.
Id known of Guys Italian Restaurant ever since I moved to Yucaipa a
few years ago and had passed it several times while exploring
neighboring cities and restaurants. But when David Schuelke and his
wife, Emeline, of Frijoles Mexican Food in Beaumont, told me their
daughter and son in law purchased Guys, I put it on my list. Because
of his high standards at Frijoles, Id try whatever he recommended.
However, for one reason or another, I continued to pass it by. I think
part of the reason is because the building looked so plain. And tiny.
But I was surprised to discover a deceptively spacious restaurant with
a warm, inviting atmosphere complete with murals on the wall. The door
opens to the bar area, cozy with dark woods, red walls, beamed
ceilings, and a colorful mural of what looks like an old ship at anchor
The next room holds tables with red-checked tablecloths and the back dining room has red comfy booths and more colorful murals.
I chose a booth in the back room and met Michelle (Shelly) Rodriguez,
the owner. She and her husband, Nelson, an officer with the Redlands
Police Department, bought Guys from the original owner a year and a
half ago. The small building was over thirty years old so Shelly and
Nelson have done some remodeling, starting with the inside, and theyre
slowly working to improve the outside as well.
Since they have loyal customers from as far as away as the coast,
theyve kept the original home-cooked recipes and added some of their
own. With Shellys experience in owning other restaurants, including a
coffee shop, Mexican and hamburger stand at the Cabazon Outlet Mall,
she applied her experience to enhance the food and service at Guys.
One of the first things she brought for me to try was her special
Tuscan Salad of mixed greens, red bell peppers, red onions, black
olives, pine nuts, golden raisins and feta cheese. I loved the crunchy
mixture of the vegetables and the delicate dressing. Balsamic
vinaigrette dressing, she told me, so it wasnt overly tart or oily.
Accompanied by a warm, garlicky Italian bread, I could have made a meal
of the salad.
But that was just the beginning. Shelly was so proud of their pasta
dishes that she wanted me to try some, such as their baked manicotti
with homemade noodles and ricotta cheese, lasagna, and the spaghetti.
All their pasta entrees are served with either soup or salad and fresh
garlic bread thats been covered with their own butter and spice
mixture then baked.
As much as I love all the Italian dishes, especially a good pizza, my
favorite is eggplant parmigiana. When its prepared just right to
achieve that soft, smooth texture and smothered in gooey cheese and a
light, sweet, marinara sauce, the mixture is heavenly. While I enjoyed
sampling the other dishes, I ate every bite of the slightly tart
Shelly brought one of their meatballs lying in a bed of cheese and
marinara sauce. They serve them with spaghetti or in a sandwich with
cheese. Their 6 lunch sandwich special during the week is $6.99,
including soup or salad and a beverage. They blend their own cheeses,
Shelly said, buying them in blocks and shredding them themselves for
the fresh taste.
Then Francisco, the head cook, brought the showpiece, the pizza. Not
only was the colorful pizza almost too pretty to eat with the reddish
pepperoni slices, the green, red and yellow peppers, the mushrooms and
brown crust, but it was presented with flair. Resting on its own stand,
it sat high on the table like the special dish it was. And it tasted as
good as it looked. Shelly said they make their own dough each day,
always making sure they have enough on hand so they never disappoint
their customers by running out.
When Shelly and Nelson bought Guys, they asked Francisco to stay with
them. Hed begun his career with the original owner seventeen years
previously when he was a sophomore in high school. His first job was
washing dishes, but with his natural instincts and love of cooking, he
quickly moved up to cook, then head cook. He elected to stay with
Shelly and she couldn't be happier as she relies heavily on his vast
knowledge and work ethics. When I talked to him, his pride in his work
was evident as he described how he mixes certain ingredients for a
special flavor, or how he cooks the marinara sauce for a certain number
of hours so the tomatoes in the sauce would lose its acidity and taste
more pleasing to their customers.
Then he presented the pièce de résistance, the cannoli desert, a pastry
tube stuffed with ricotta. Chopped green pistachios decorated one end
and the other was sprinkled with chocolate bits. Oh my goodness, or by
then I should say, oh my badness, because as full as I was with
wonderful food, I ate every delicious bite.
Guy's Senior Specials are served from 4:00pm, offering ravioli,
lasagna, manicotti, mostaccioli, eggplant parmigiana, or spaghetti
marinara, served with choice of soup or salad and garlic bread for
$7.99. And for those under 12, a special menu of mac & cheese,
cheese pizza, ravioli, or spaghetti is available for $5.99 and includes
a beverage and dessert.
With Shelly, Francisco, Sergio, and Carlos preparing the food, and
Kelly, Stephanie, and Lisa, serving it with pride and efficiency, Guys
is well-worth the trip to Banning.
(Francisco, Shelly, & Kelly)
Guys Italian Restaurant
5970 W. Ramsey St.
Banning (Just east of Highland Springs Ave)
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11am-9pm
Saturday, Sunday 4pm-9pm