gmhTODAY Summer 2022 - Page 64

DINING OUT ... WITH FRIENDS AT MAURIZIO ' S

by Mike Sanchez Photos by Mike Sanchez

M ost restaurant reviews start the moment the writer walks in the door or up to the check in podium , since this is often the first point of customer engagement , or “ user experience .” However , our user experience at Maurizio ’ s Ristorante Italiano in Morgan Hill began when we first reached out to make a reservation — and it was remarkable .

We spoke to Maurizio ’ s joyful manager , Daniel Garcia , by phone . Because we are not your normal crowd of diners – lights , cameras , additional support people — Daniel wanted to make sure he could provide enough staff to service our circus , while maintaining excellent service to all other customers . Important to note — we were asking to be there on a Saturday night , the busiest time and day for every restaurant . Daniel ’ s first answer was “ Yes .”
Daniel looped in owner Maurizio Cutrignelli himself — who was busy at his latest restaurant , Osteria al Mare , in Monterey . Going over the details with Maurizio and confirming the plan was simply a great experience .
Maurizio has spent his lifetime in hospitality . At age 15 he enrolled in the Instituto Professionale Alberghiero de Stato Armando Perotti in his hometown of Bari , Italy . By age 16 , he was working seasonally in hotels and resorts , and worked throughout Italy and Holland perfecting his skills . In 1993 he made the move to Morgan Hill to work in his hometown friend ’ s business ,
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Morgan Hill Icon Maurizio Cutrignelli puts his passion into everything he touches , and it shows . Dining out at Maurizio ' s Ristorante Italiano is a wonderful experience from start to finish . Excellent food , great wine and spectacular service . It ' s all here .
ABOVE LEFT : All smiles as our host and server Daniel Garcia pours the 2020 Mer Solei Chardonnay . CENTER : Maurizio ' s features and extensive wine list including many local favorites .
Casa Mia . It was there he learned English while waiting on tables . The next year , he opened Piccolo — a small Italian deli — and found success right away . In 1996 , Piccolo was named “ Best Sandwich in the South Valley '' by Metro magazine . In 1998 he opened Maurizio ’ s at its first location , eventually expanding into the former Jack ’ s Steakhouse location , and ultimately settling in his current location at 25 First Street in 2004 .
It ’ s clear thatMaurizio is all about quality , pleasing his customers from the first impression to the last , and creating amazing dishes from the finest ingredients . What is also clear , his staff , beginning with Daniel , are in lockstep with Maurizio on every level . The proof is in the experience .
Our amazing friends for this “ Dining Out With Friends ”( DOWF ) experience were lifelong Gilroyans , Jaclyn ( Jaci ) and Havin Muro . It ’ s weird to admit — but we ’ ve known these two since they were kids ! Fast forward , they are raising two kids of their own — a teenager and a toddler . Jaclyn is the Public Relations Director at Christopher Ranch and the Executive Director at the Latino Family Fund de Gilroy . A Leadership Gilroy Class of 2021 alum , she credits the program with helping her find her passion in community volunteerism . In her spare time , she is pursuing a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Brand Management from UCLA . Havin is a 17- year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department , a huge local non-profit and community supporter , and one of the nicest people you could know .
On this warm early summer Saturday night , Deb and I arrived just a few minutes early . Daniel cheerfully introduced himself and guided us to our seats , suggesting some wines . We started out with a glass of La Boatina Pinot Grigio ( 2020 La Boatina Winery , Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region — one of five autonomous regions in North-Eastern Italy ). It was a great and refreshing wine to cool off and settle in . Just a few minutes later Jaci and
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