Fall in Love, Italian Style, at Il Giardino
Enjoy Sicilian decadence in Palm Springs
By Kevin Perry
Palm Springs has always been a tastemaker, from our breezy resort wear to our mid-century modern flair. And taste is celebrated, exalted, and amplified at Il Giardino, a hearty slice of heaven nestled in the soul of downtown.
“Everything is house made,” declares Rosario Cultraro, who owns and operates the charming ristorante with his wife, chef extraordinaire Teresa Attardi. He sings the words “house” and “home” as interchangeable melodies in an orchestra of inclusion, welcoming guests as if they were members of his own famiglia.
“We are from Novara, near Milan,” he narrates. “It is famous for gorgonzola, which we still get from our cousin in Italy.” This tantalizing trek brings the signature cheese from the cradle of European cuisine to the tables of our grateful hometown. A highlight of Cultraro’s menu is the pear salad with walnuts, which is graced by the aforementioned gorgonzola goodness that harkens back to his childhood.
When asked why he made the move to Palm Springs, Rosario answers bluntly, “The weather.” So we all have the SoCal heat to thank for cooking up this culinary gem in the Inland Empire.
But Cultraro didn’t leave behind the flavors and family that nurtured his passion for serving up robust dining experiences. “We go back to visit every year,” he chimes, explaining that his relatives gather annually for a bonding session – not only with each other, but also with the luscious landscape of his homeland. Cultraro uses these pilgrimages as research sojourns to drum up fresh ingredients, which he routinely exports to Palm Springs for another year of excellence aplenty.
“Except for produce,” he is quick to add, “which we get fresh locally.” Oh, don’t worry; we can taste that truth for ourselves, Rosario!
Cultraro then turns the conversation over lovingly to his wife Teresa, who expounds upon her most beloved dish: salsiccia. “It’s my creation,” admits Ms. Attardi. “I mix Sicilian and Northern together. The salsiccia is my family recipe from Sicily and I add the cream because even though we usually use the tomato sauce, we lived in Novara for 24 years already and I just want to mix a little bit of Northern Italy when I do this, so I add the cream.”
Her husband interjects to praise Teresa’s homemade sausage, the star of her salsiccia. Their words dance together like the bewitching elements of their delectable dishes, simmering into a perfect mélange of whimsy and welcome.
As Teresa returns her focus to the evening meal at hand, Rosario resumes his front of the house duties. “Our food is fresh, like what you would get from your Mama or Grandmama.” He embraces his ancestors with his bouncy delivery, and honors them with his bountiful example. Il Giardino is a love letter to Italy, written in sauce and signed with affection. The understated eatery is a monument of rich textures, luxuriant aromas, and deliciousness by the mille.
But don’t take our words for it; just listen to the maestro of mmm.
“You must try it at least once, then you can decide for yourself.” Cultraro’s confidence is well earned, as is his place on the Palm Springs gourmet map. He and Teresa have crafted a venerable reputation, but their humility still shines through.
At this point, our official interview ends, but the love keeps flowing like vintage vino. Rosario invites us, and by extension you (the reader), to stop by anytime. “We are ready for you.”
And if you’re ready for a taste sensation that transcends borders, generations, and expectations, then book your table with Rosario and Teresa today.
333 S. Indian Canyon Dr.