For local flavor, there’s no place like Guido’s.
By Kim Devore / Staff Writer
On any given Friday night, you are bound to see longtime local Paul Mantee and his wife Suzy enjoying dinner beneath the wine racks at their usual corner table at Guido’s. Familiar faces like the Mantees, who have been going year after year, make Guido’s a neighborhood favorite. If you go there long enough, you’re bound to walk in and see someone you know, or know of.
“It’s our place,” Suzy Davis Mantee said. “It’s relaxing and we really enjoy it.”
The Mantees are usually joined by their friends Susie and Dennis.
“After that, it’s kind of pot luck, you never know who you’ll see,” Suzy said.
Realtors from Pritchett-Rapf & Associates stop by to socialize after a long day showing pricey pads; soccer moms might pop in with their little ones in tow. You could see a city councilmember, a celebrity, a publisher, or all three.
While the Mantees opt for the cozy bar, you’re more apt to find locals like Barbra Streisand or Dick Van Dyke in the dining room overlooking Cross Creek.
No matter which room you choose, the menu doesn’t change. Some of the most requested items include chef Elano Camboni’s osso bucco as well as the roasted veal chop topped with fried sage. The chopped salad is a standout and the Bolognese pasta makes a hearty choice. The wine list is extensive and the prices are reasonable. The bartenders operate with heavy hands or, as Paul Mantee likes to put it, “They have the best pour in town.”
Another familiar face is Vassil Pertchinkov, the general manager and co-owner who is almost always on the job. He started as a waiter when the place first opened 13 years ago and has been there ever since. Remarkably talented when it comes to names and faces, if he meets you once, he’s almost certain to remember you the second time around, ask about the kids and probably remember their names, too.
It’s easy to make friends over fettuccini, especially if you pull up a stool and dine at the bar.
“I met you there,” notes my pal Rich Fox who proceeds to give me his list. “And Paul and Suzy, and Henry and Kathy and Dennis and…”
Like Fox, Pertchinkov agrees that the regular customers makes Guido’s special.
“We are 95 percent local,” he said. “We just want to make people feel like this is a nice, homey place.”
Apparently they do. Or as Fox says, “Guido’s is like a club where, as they say in “Cheers,” ‘everybody knows your name.'”