Ronnie Grisanti’s: Worth it?


Theodore Masco, Staff Writer

Italian food. Often defined by flavorful red sauces and noodles of all shapes and sizes, it is arguably a staple of American culture. Most of us have probably had some, weither it be spaghetti and meatballs, a calzone, or the ever-popular dish of pizza. These dishes are great and all… but have you ever had real Italian food? A authentic lasagna? RealItalian veal with authentic risotto? If no, I think that, maybe, you should try some of what Grisanti’s has to offer.


The culinary legend of the Grisanti’s franchise began when Rinaldo “Willie” Grisanti (b.1890-d.1966) immigrated from Italy to Memphis in 1909, over a hundred years ago. His sons, Elfo Grisanti (b.1914-d.1975) and John “Big John” Grisanti (b.1928-d.1995) each continued the franchise of restaurants in the Memphis area, with Elfo opening his own and John working for their father’s restaurant – Willie’s Grill – before opening his own soon-to-be-famous restaurant in 1962. “Big John” went on to become a Memphis legend, his restaurant considered a historical establishment by many in the area. John and Elfo each had many sons, who went on to have even more sons, extending the franchise of restaurants further and further. Today though, I will be focusing in on Ronnie Grisanti (b.1939-d.2017) and his arm of the chain. His restaurant is currently located at the Regalia Shopping Center in East Memphis, though it was formerly located in the Sheffield Antique Mall in Collierville, which also happens to be where David Grisanti’s was (soon-to-be) formerly located at the time of writing. With that said, let’s get to the review, which will be of my experience and of dishes I myself have tasted.




Focaccia Bread with Olive Oil and Vinegar (always provided unless otherwise specified):


Pretty solid, considering this is just your average Italian appetizer. If the vinegar was replaced with herbs of some kind, this would be leagues better.

Tuscan Butter and Focaccia bread:


This is what the regular appetizer bread dish wants to be. Good, but the sauce overpowers the cheese flavor, which I feel would make it more enjoyable.

Polpette Tri Amici (Three Meatballs):


Wonderful. Makes for a great snack whilst you wait for the main course. Unfortunately, meatballs aren’t really a dish you can share…

Main Course:



Would probably be good without the fennel, as it did not meld well at all with the meats sharing space with it in the ravioli.



Ordered this once and instantly knew this was going to be what I always ordered. From the tortellini to the julienned vegetables, this is an absolutely magnificent dish.


Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes:


I don’t really have a problem with rosemary… unless it’s on fries. Then there’s a problem.


Risotto Con Parmigiano-Reggiano:


Normally, I’m pretty on the fence about risotto. People usually don’t cook it long enough, or put in some sort of weird sauce that doesn’t meld at all with it. This isn’t a problem here. It does taste a bit strange in a way I can’t really place though…



Chocolate Cheesecake:


Not too heavy, but not too light. The perfect final dish.

Caramel Gelato:


Very tasty, but often much too heavy right after a full meal.

Lemon Sorbet:


Tastes like minute maid. I despise minute maid.


Food: ★★★★☆

Overall, the food is pretty good, though some dishes could definitely use some tweaking.

Atmosphere: ★★★★☆

The Restaurant has the air of a fancy Italian eatery, which sounds nice until you realize that the darker lights can and will hurt your eyes.

Staff: ★★★★★

Excellent customer service, with kind employees who know what they’re talking about.

Price: $$$

Pretty expensive, but not luxury kinds of expensive. Entrees tend to range from 20 to 50 dollars.

Would I Recommend?

Yes. If you’ve got the time, money, and suitably empty stomach, I’d say that Ronnie Grisanti’s is just about the best Italian food you can get.