Our spotlight shines this week on Mario and Maggie Rosales, owners of Giorgino’s restaurant. The husband and wife team have been serving the “Best Cheesesteak in Town” from their 28th Street location since 2007. With only the most authentic ingredients, Giorgino’s provides a bit of true East Coast flavor right here in Golden Hill.
Mario and Maggie Rosales worked for a corporate retail giant for many years. Tired of the grind they set out to find a business they could run themselves. “We always envisioned ourselves as entrepreneurs and loved the way great food brings people together,” says Maggie.
But transitioning from retail to a restaurant came with great risk. Neither Mario nor Maggie felt prepared to start from scratch. Instead, they were interested in acquiring a business that they could perfect and make their own. After months of due diligence, they found Giorgino’s in Golden Hill. “I wanted to run a restaurant that was doing something unique,” says Mario. “San Diego is saturated with taco shops and burger joints. What Giorgino’s offers is something different.”
With a few professional tips and some guidance from the previous owner, Mario and Maggie were able to hit the ground running. The Rosales officially relaunched Giorgino’s on the very lucky day of July 7, 2007 (07/07/07).
They scaled down the menu putting the emphasis more on Giorgino’s most unique offerings. Previously, Giorgino’s had specialized in East Coast-style deli sandwiches, a few pasta dishes, and of course, the cheesesteak. Mario and Maggie reduced the full-scale deli and pasta options and expanded the variety of cheesesteaks offered. Mario even struck a deal with neighbor, Sepulveda Meats, to offer authentic Argentinian choripán sausage sandwiches, a nod to Mario’s Italian-Argentine heritage.
So, what makes Giorgino’s the “best cheesesteak in town” as their sign proclaims? It has to be the authentic ingredients. To start, Giorgino’s only uses Amoroso rolls flown in from Philadelphia, the birthplace and capital of cheesesteaks. Next comes the highest-quality, perfectly cooked cuts of steak or chicken. Then the hot, sizzling base is topped with Philly-based Dietz & Watson cheeses, or for the true City of Brotherly Love experience, Cheez Whiz. Finally, customers can choose from a seemingly endless list of add-ins like onions, peppers, and specialty sauces.
One menu item in particular makes Giorgino’s a cult favorite, pork roll. Anyone who has lived or spent time in New Jersey is familiar with pork roll, also known as Taylor Ham. The salty, smoky slices of pork roll are a staple for New Jerseyans often served with eggs and cheese on a toasted roll. Mario and Maggie were unfamiliar with pork roll before they started running Giorgino’s, but they quickly learned that New Jersey transplants eager to satiate their cravings made for regular customers.
Since the beginning, Mario and Maggie have worked behind the scenes to ensure that Golden Hill receives its fair share of services and attention. They worked closely with city officials to add additional parking to 28th Street. They beautify the community by removing graffiti and trash at their own expense. For their efforts, Giorgino’s was named “Business of the Year” in 2009 by the Golden Hill CDC.
After 15 years of running a successful business, I asked Mario and Maggie what they liked about being in the neighborhood, “Golden Hill is a great community to play, live, socialize, work or just hang out. Neighborhood feel within a big city is hard to beat. We have a great customer base and community of neighbors that care.”
When asked what advice they would give a young entrepreneur, Mario had a lot of sage wisdom, “Although often extremely satisfying, being an entrepreneur is not all roses. Entrepreneurs often dedicate most of their waking hours to their business. Having a passion for something does not necessarily translate into being a successful business owner. Your well executed business plan, ability to adapt, willingness to change, unwavering dedication, leadership skills (if you have a team) and overall financial wellness are key factors required for a high likelihood of success.”
Giorgino’s is located at 1237 28th Street. They are open Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday 10:30am – 8pm, closed Monday and Wednesday. You can reach them at (619) 234-9141, by visiting giorginos.com, or on social media @giorginos1.