When visiting California’s Lodi wine country, I’ve always found that to be a challenge. It’s not that Lodi doesn’t have good locally owned and operated restaurants; it’s just that most of the best feature Mexican cuisine. And they love to spice up the dishes to a degree that my admittedly tender palate and stomach can’t handle them.
But during my most recent trip to Lodi, I asked one of the vintners I was visiting to recommend a good restaurant, and I told him about my tender tummy.
“Are you looking for Mexican?” he asked.
“Actually, it doesn’t matter,” I replied. “Just good food, and not too spicy.”
“Does it have to be in the city of Lodi?”
“No, just someplace nearby.”
“I’ve got just the place.”
That place: Wholey Ravioli, a family owned and operated Italian restaurant in the city of Galt, a few miles north of Lodi.
While the restaurant, located in a neighborhood strip mall easily accessed from Highway 99, features an extensive menu of Italian favorites, the specialty of the house, as its name suggests, is ravioli. Specifically, oversized raviolis that are hand-rolled.
Choices include ravioli with fresh mushrooms, ravioli with a hearty meat red sauce, and cheese ravioli with seafood Alfredo sauce, mushrooms, peppers and onions. There’s also a menu called “Rav It Your Way” which includes a choice of three sauces.
The restaurant serves complete dinners, including soup or Italian greens and beans, salad topped with a closely guarded family recipe dressing, house-baked bread and dessert. Chef-owner David Fortuna prepares every entrée himself, which means some may take longer than others. One doesn’t go to Wholey Ravioli for a quick meal; rather, one should plan to settle in for a long evening and a meal to be savored.
As for the wine list, it’s short but extremely well selected — mainly bottlings crafted by local Lodi vintners that pair perfectly with fresh, house-made pasta dishes and sauces.
I’ve been visiting Lodi wine country for years, and I wish I’d known about Wholey Ravioli. Now that I do, I’ll probably make Galt my home base during visits, and Wholey Ravioli my destination for dinner each night.
You can read about the history of this exceptional family restaurant here.