Michael Tuozzo: The Italian Kitchen
(Originally published March 6, 2007.)
"Delicioso" describes the authentic Italian cuisine served at Hesperia's Italian Kitchen, on the corner of Third and Yucca—just north of Main Street.
Host, owner and head chef Michael Tuozzo began the Italian Kitchen's Tuozzo era 21 years ago in 1986 after buying the restaurant from the previous owner, who had operated it since 1973.
Michael is of Italian-American descent and was born and raised in "Little Italy" of the Bronx, in New York City. He never attended culinary school but instead learned his trade from relatives. He worked in a butcher shop at age 11 and has aspired to own and operate his own restaurant since he was 15.
He was employed with Consolidated Freightways, now Swift Trucking, before moving to Hesperia in 1989 and buying the Italian Kitchen. In those days, he says, the restaurant was in need of repair and had relatively few customers. Now, 21 years later, it's a cozy restaurant—sort of life a bistro, and he has lots of regulars.
Michael emphasizes custom orders. A look at his menu reveals what he can do but he specializes in preparing foods the way the customer wants. Pizza, for instance, has been described by some as "cardboard with tomato sauce on it," but Michael's tasty pizza crust is handmade to order as thick or thin as you want it. About 20 percent of his business is pizza-as-you-like it and the remainder is spaghetti, lasagna and other specialties.
Michael says there are numerous varieties of pasta, and he serves a lot of them. He, as chef, does a lot of experimenting and sampling. Michael has one other full-time chef, plus a part-timer, in addition to four waitresses to wait on you.
They're open every day except Monday.
Congratulations to Michael Tuozzo and his staff at the Italian Kitchen for being our "Business Star of the Month."
Richard Doornbos writes the regular "Desert Studies" column for the Hesperia Star.