Walking into Gervasoni’s on McHenry Avenue gives one a dose of nostalgia, especially for those that frequented the restaurant when it was in downtown Modesto. The bar along with the light fixtures, booths, fireplace, and décor all made the journey from downtown to North Modesto, where the table numbers remain the same. Owners Serena Sisson and Rosalie Hernandez have a small crew that continues to deliver some of the Gervasoni’s traditions going since 1975.
For the past 10 years, the mother-daughter duo has owned Gervasoni’s with both of them taking on several roles, including Hernandez as the Executive Chef and Sisson as the Bartender and General Manager, along with everything in between. They have been at the new location since November 2017.
“We had to get this place fixed up,” stated Sisson. “We had to gut the place so we grabbed as much of the furniture and fixtures that we could. We tried to keep everything the same from downtown. It is quite a long way from where we were, here. We wanted to keep it part of the restaurant and bring back memories for all those people that come in.”
Guests share with them on a regular basis how their parents or grandparents frequented the original establishment.
“We have the same table numbers because people would call in and request their specific table,” said Sisson. “That was their booth when they would go out downtown.”
The large parking area really attracted them to their spot on McHenry as it has been convenient for those with trucks, trailers, and bigger vehicles.
They are open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday through Saturday. They offer guests a full bar with some Gervasoni specialty cocktails, along with beer and wine.
“We have a lot of farmers come here,” said Sisson. “We get a lot of Oakdale, Escalon, Manteca, and Modesto that come here for the food and drinks. They love their whiskey and beer. The guys will come here after golf and have lunch and then roll their dice and have their drinks.”
Guests at the bar can pull up the red high back bar stool, grab a dice cup and a shot of Jameson with a sugared lemon wedge, or one of the beers on draft, a martini, a signature Pecan Punch, or a whiskey on the rocks; whatever suits your palate.
The specialty Basque cocktail that they offer is the Pecan Punch with Amaro Montenegro liqueur, a little bit of brandy, grenadine, and a splash of club soda and is a real crowd pleaser.
During the summer time a top seller is the Mint Julep, Pomegranate Margarita and a year-round guest favorite is the classic Old-Fashioned.
Sisson has been bartending for 14 years and at times has put on the therapist hat behind the bar but does not charge therapist fees.
“People come in and we listen,” remarked Sisson. “I enjoy it. People vent and say things to their bartenders and they just confide in them because it is someone there to listen and respond. They know that they can vent to us. Those relationships that you build with your customers — I love it.”
Gary Gervasoni was the original owner that opened the doors and at the time had a Chef that was Basque. They would offer a Basque night that was family style with some traditional Basque selections. Hernandez has kept some of those Basque items on the menu.
For more information visit www.gervasonisrestaurant.com or Gervasoni’s restaurant on Facebook or Instagram.