San Jose Dining: Original Joe’s

April 5, 2008

Original Joe’s Italian Restaurant
301 S. First Street, San Jose, CA 95113

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On our third night in the Silicon Valley area, Cheryl told me she was ready for something hearty and suggested Italian Food. I hadn’t eaten a really decent Italian-American meal since I more or less gave up on pasta when I burned my lifetime Fat Pack membership card, so I figured I would treat myself to a nice basic red sauce dish. One place that I knew we definitely wouldn’t be disappointed in was Original Joe’s, which is near the downtown San Jose Convention Center on First Street.

I have been to Original Joe’s on a number of occasions, pretty much exclusively when the summer IDG LinuxWorld Expo used to be in San Jose before they moved the show to Moscone Center in San Francisco — a tragic mistake on part of IDG, in my opinion. The nearby Fairmont Hotel where I used to stay during LinuxWorld made Original Joe’s a convenient place to eat. It’s not fancy stuff, just traditional red sauce classics and steaks and chops, but they know how to do it properly and do it well. They’ve been in business for over 50 years, and the atmosphere is unique — its sort of a Steakhouse-cum-diner-cum-wine bar-cum-Italian mobster hangout. Its always very busy and the place is huge inside, and it’s got a really loud vibe. I love it.

In September of 2007, the restaurant closed for three months and underwent a major renovation. It’s less edgy than it used to be, with hardwood accents and a classier new “speakeasy” look, but in many ways its still the same good ‘ol Original Joe’s I remember from years ago. The food and drink does not disappoint.

The entrance to the restaurant on First.

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