The lamb osso bucco- lamb shanks and vegetables simmered in a rich red wine tomato sauce with rice or pasta (rice shown) served at Guiseppe's Ristorante Italiano (cq GUISEPPE'S RISTORANTE ITALIANO) located in Tucson, Ariz., Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010 (cq WEDNESDAY OCT. 13, 2010). Photo by Samantha Sais/Arizona Daily Star Transmission 150739 MANDATORY CREDIT, NO MAGS, NO SALES Samantha Sais/Arizona Daily Star

Guiseppe's Ristorante Italiano is a place of plenty:

• Plenty of people packed into the restaurant.

• Plenty of food on the plates.

• And plenty of time sitting around waiting to be served.

Our first visit was on a Tuesday night, not generally a bustling restaurant evening. Every table at Guiseppe's was filled, and if it hadn't been raining, we suspect every patio table would have been packed, too, filling all 72 of the seats available.

On the second visit, the weather was better and the restaurant had a waiting line for tables in and out.

Even with reservations, the wait for a table was long on the first visit, and even longer on the second, a Thursday night. A 7 p.m. reservation finally got seated at 7:45.

And it's crowded, with tables elbow-kissing distance apart, and a sit-down bar with televisions packed into the small indoor space.

Perhaps that's the price of fame - the 8-month-old restaurant is owned by Joe Scordato of the local restaurant family (his brother, Daniel, owns Vivace). Scordato opened Trattoria Guiseppe on Tucson's east side in 2000, sold it a few years later and took a break from the restaurant business until he opened Guiseppe's on the northwest side earlier this year. It echoes the menu from the earlier Guiseppe - and the bargain prices.

Word spread quickly that his "blue-collar Italian," as Scordato calls it, was once again being dished up.

First rule here: Be patient.

On both visits, a table was no guarantee that food would soon follow.

In fact, it took close to a half-hour to get entrees on the first visit; nearly an hour on the next.

Which means a lot of bread with Guiseppe's pesto-flavored olive oil was consumed. And that bread, with its day-old texture and cardboardy taste, shouldn't be what fills you up there.

When food finally comes . . . well, be prepared to feast on the dish for a few days. The servings are big. Really big.

The pesto salad ($7.50), for instance, isn't your light dinner salad. It is, in essence, a big bowl of farfalle pasta tossed with basil pesto (way too stingy with the garlic), topped with slices of bright red, sweet tomatoes and tossed with grilled chicken. Don't let the "soup and salad" category fool you; this is an entree.

The soup isn't a dainty cup; oh no, this baby is a bowl. Minestrone ($3.25) is a standard, but there's a daily offering that changes, as well ($3.75). On one night, that was a mushroom that was difficult to stop sipping. It was loaded with fresh mushrooms, and someone in the kitchen is an expert in stock-making. Cream added a smooth texture and rich taste.

Of course, every last drop was drunk, which made for eating the entire entree even more difficult.

And really, you want to eat it all - but pace yourself. Filling up on Italian food can mean you may have to be wheelbarrowed out.

Scordato knows comfort food, and he wants you to be really, really comfortable.

The fettuccine Alfredo ($7.50) is an oversized bowl of the flat pasta done a perfect al dente and liberally tossed with the cream and Parmesan cheese sauce. Velvety and so comforting, it's like a big food hug. There was supposed to be sausage on this dish (an extra $2.50), but the waiter forgot it, then promised to come back with it. About 20 minutes later, he returned with a side dish of pork sausage kicked with just enough pepper to give it oomph and enough of the slightly sweet, delicate fennel to give it nuance. This was packed up for the next day, along with more than half the fettuccini. And they both held up quite well.

The Chicken Giovanni ($9.95) featured a breast pounded thin and baked in a coat of Parmesan. Moist and tender, the chicken was topped with a fragrant, come-hither sauce spiked with wine, punched with garlic, and squirted with lemon. It was a combo of sass and sophistication. Thankfully, there was plenty of it. We could down that sauce all by itself.

Then there's the meatball ricotta ($8.95). It completely covered a large dinner plate. Farfalle pasta topped with ricotta sprinkled with basil, and at least a half-dozen meatballs, and all covered with a marinara sauce and melted mozzarella, thanks to a final baking in the oven. Crispy, cheesy, with those tender meatballs made with ground beef, a bit of garlic and bread crumbs -what's not to love?

The biggest disappointment with Guiseppe's: too full to order dessert. And we have fond memories of Scordato's spumoni ice cream ($4.50).

Maybe next time, we'll just order dessert. We're sure that will be plenty.


• What: Guiseppe's, 6060 N. Oracle Road at West Rudasill Road, 505-4187.

• Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

• Family call: The kids will love it, but don't expect a family conversation.

• Noise level: Very high.

• Vegetarian choices: Several.

• Dress: Casual.

• Prices: Priciest item on the menu is the osso bucco at $15.95.

When food finally comes . . . well, be prepared to feast on the dish for a few days. The servings are big. Really big.