Our party of five showed up at Two Guys From Italy on a Thursday night around 7:30. We were a little taken aback at first because we were asked to wait for a table and the restaurant looked nearly empty. But then a friendly woman told us that she had two large parties coming in and she wanted to give us a quiet table in the back where another group was finishing up. Once we found out that the wait was to try to give us a better experience, we didn't mind. I used the time to peruse the menu, and started falling in love with the restaurant as soon as I hit the beer list. Just to have a beer list that consists of something more interesting than Corona and Heineken is exciting; to have a full-page list of interesting German brews, complete with descriptions, is a godsend for beer lovers. (They also have a wine list for you oenophiles.)
Contrary to its name, Two Guys From Italy is actually run by "a chick from Bavaria," as owner Valeria refers to herself. She purchased the restaurant in 1998 and has allowed her native southern German cuisine to influence a small part of the menu (ten entrees). The rest of the menu is Italian--awfully good Italian that you'd never guess came from a German. The lengthy menu would take weeks to eat through--there are eleven types of pasta and twenty-six sauces that you can combine any way you want, along with several meat and seafood entrees and pizza. If you want to try to get through the menu a little faster, you can try the restaurant's lunch buffet.
Tortellini con nocini
The tortellini con nocini is one of the create-your-own pasta options. The nocini is a creamy gorgonzola sauce with walnuts and one of the best pasta sauces we've ever tried. The chicken Marco Polo, two thin, juicy chicken breasts with mushrooms and artichokes in a slightly tangy, deliciously heart-attack-inducing cream sauce, was also a winner. If you're sharing plates though, don't order these two dishes--the flavors of the different sauces clash with each other.
A recent trip to Germany and a couple of years of German lessons had me in full-on trip nostalgia mode, so I ordered a German beer (Wiesen Edel-Weisse) and a German entree, the rouladen, which is a three-quarter-inch thick piece of beef rolled around pickled vegetables, onions, and bacon and drenched in gravy. I can't say I've ever had this dish before, so I didn't have anything to compare it to. The beef was moist and tender, and while I was somewhat concerned about the pickles being overpowering, I didn't even notice them. The onions were similarly mild. The dish paired wonderfully with the beer, which was served in the correct glass and expertly poured by the waiter. The dish came with a side of spaetzle, a sort of fried, homemade noodle-dumpling perfect for sopping up excess gravy, and sweet-tart braised red cabbage (not pictured).
All of the entrees come with your choice of soup or salad (the lentil soup tastes wonderfully homemade) and a basket of warm bread and olive tapenade (that doesn't taste like a tin can).
Of the items on the dessert list, the tiramisu and cannoli are made in house and the rest come from outside vendors. The cannoli's thick, crunchy, bubbly shell oozes with dense, super-sweet cream that has a hint of vanilla.
I'm not a cannoli expert, but I really loved this one. Like a Sprinkles cupcake, however, it's perhaps too much of a sugar high for one person.
As for the tiramisu, I think that once you've had one tiramisu, you've had them all. This one didn't change my mind--not that it wasn't good, it just didn't wow me. We also tried the blackout cake, which was similarly good but generic.
The service at this restaurant is superb. Of the many servers we interacted with, all were friendly, pleasant, and seemed happy to be there. All of our dishes arrived promptly. Valeria, the owner, visited our table several times during the meal. The decor is, shall we say, very red and green, with lots of hanging plants, a wall of mirrors and some neon (yes, it's a bit dated). There's nothing trendy or showy about Two Guys, and it's not the kind of place you take someone who is hard to impress. It's just a casual, comfortable, reasonably priced restaurant with excellent food and excellent service. And that's why I like it.
Two Guys From Italy
484 E. Los Angeles Ave
Moorpark, CA 93021
Mon - Fri: 11am - 9pm
Saturday: 4pm - 10pm
Sunday: 4pm - 9pm