Johnny Costa's Ristorante
An Authentic Taste of Italy
By Kathleen M. Bennett
Johnny Costa was born in Naples, Italy, and has been a chef and restaurant owner for more than 36 years in the Palm Springs area. His authentic Napolitano, family-inspired recipes are recreated fresh every day — from pastas and marinara sauce to fresh fish and meats complemented by flavorful sauces.
The atmosphere takes you back to a nostalgic era you only see on film — a romantic setting with soft lighting, dark woods, candlelit tables, and cozy booths, with the Rat Pack and Italian music playing in the background. Many celebrities and entertainers have frequented the restaurant over the years; and in the 1970s, Johnny was one of the few chefs hired by Frank Sinatra to cook for him at his estate.
Every dinner begins with freshly baked Italian rolls and focaccia bread served hot from the oven. Each entrée is complemented by a choice of minestrone soup or a crisp house salad. For starters, try the antipasto for two or the clams or mussels in marinara sauce, a local favorite. Entrées are accompanied by fresh vegetables or a side of pasta and marinara sauce. Menu favorites include linguini with clams or mussels, eggplant Parmigiana, veal mushroom, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, of course, Steak Sinatra!
Johnny combines the freshest of ingredients to create mouthwatering tastes. If your palate is in the mood for pasta, sample the spaghetti and homemade meatballs for an authentic taste of Italy. Start your evening with Johnny’s signature “Costa-Politan” or choose from a selection of many fine Italian wines, signature martinis, or after-dinner drinks. Don’t miss happy hour at the full bar or enjoy an espresso after dinner while choosing from a selection of desserts, including Johnny’s homemade tiramisú.
Open for dinner nightly at 5 p.m., closed Sundays. Reservations are recommended. Enjoy outdoor patio dining with views of the mountains. Private dining is available for groups, with ample parking in back on Indian Canyon Drive or on Palm Canyon Drive. Heart — Healthy Menu selections endorsed by the International Heart and Lung Institute. Voted “Best Italian Restaurant” 2011 and 2012 by Palm Springs Life readers.
Johnny Costa’s Ristorante
Price Range: $$
The Costa family: Nephew Chip Illiano, oldest son head chef Vince, father Johnny, sons John Jr., Tony, Nick, and daughter Michelle (not pictured) in their dining room.
Some of the authentic Italian specialties featured at Johnny Costa’s, clockwise from the right — veal chop smothered in a cognac mushroom sauce with a side of fresh vegetables; linguini and clams, (linguini pasta with fresh New Zealand clams in garlic white wine sauce); homemade crème brûlée; Lasagna, layers of pasta, ricotta cheese, ground beef, topped with marinara and fresh mozzarella cheese; Limon Cheesecake, graham cookie crumb crust, cream and mascarpone cheese with pistachio tuile. The suggested wines are Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley, Chardonnay, 2010, Caymus, Cabernet Special Selection, 2009 Tignanello, pToscana”, Carmignano, 2008. Photographed before a painting of the island of Ischia Port of San Angelo.
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