I have not yet tried Jefferson’s (not) many offerings, but I can virtually guarantee that Salvador’s is going to be its best. Salvador’s, located in the Kroger shopping center on 129, easily holds its own with DePalma’s in nearby Athens. If you’re a local, you may remember Ristorante Roberto in Watkinsville; Salvador is Roberto’s slightly classier and more talented cousin.
Rick & JoAnn Frontera, the accommodating, affable owners/chefs, use recipes that have been in Rick’s family for four generations. After about 100 years, they know what they’re doing and are masters! Pasta is cooked perfectly; the meat sauce is TOTAL HEAVEN–spiced so well. We couldn’t stop eating it. Truly exceptional.
Chow.com’s lone review on this place disses its wine list, but I must disagree. Not only did they have more choices than I expect from a small, rural Italian restaurant, they were knowledgeable about them and offered tastings so you can find exactly what you like. Service was super-friendly and down-home, which is one of the lovely things about a non-chain, mom-and-pop place. These people are excited about their food and their restaurant. They show the passion of true lovers of food in their generosity of portion, presentation, technique, and service.
The Chow.com reviewer did get the rest right, though: “There is an ambiance of pride in this place and rightfully so.”
If you’re on your way to Athens from Gainesville or Atlanta, skip nasty, boring 316 and head up 129. You won’t be sorry (and the drive is beautiful).
Edited to insert the most HILARIOUS part of my dining experience! JoAnn said they had to change the name from “Salvador’s Sicilian Grill” because people kept coming in and asking what KIND OF FOOD they serve (as in, “Is this a Mexican restaurant?”). HAHAHAHAHA! Classic.
1681 Old Pendergrass Rd # 100, Jefferson, GA