According to its homepage, “Giacomo’s is the place where you will find the food is exquisite, the service is of the highest standard, and the environment is relaxing.” The awkward wording says it all as to just how goffo (that’s Italian for “goofball”) this red-sauce joint sitting amid the fast-food chains off I-25 in Pueblo is. Since the food’s really pretty awful, I would have categorized it under Eateries That Give Me Hives if it weren’t for the soft spot I have for such casas di kitsch as this.

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At lunchtime on a weekday, I was the youngest customer in the dining room by far; the garden club set was out in full leisurewear force, trading notes on hedgerows over iced tea & spumoni or whatever.

As for the repertoire, you know everything’s scampi this & parmigiana that. The lunch menu’s also heavy on the sandwiches—not panini but red-white-&-blue basics proffered in charmingly retro lingo (“ground sirloin char-broiled to a desired temperature & served on a golden egg bun”). The early bird menu (natch) has, get this, a section labeled Pasta & another labeled More Pasta. And the dinner menu boasts all manner of golden oldies, from escargot in garlic butter & fried cheese sticks to broiled orange roughy & trout almondine.

The cooking itself, though, isn’t so old-fashioned. Minestrone was supposedly homemade but had Campbell’s written all over its mushy cubes of beef & carrot in salt-tastic broth.

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The chef’s salad was just so much sloppy storebought stuff.

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And guaranteed you wouldn’t know the styrofoamy garlic bread from Stouffer’s.

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But it wasn’t all bad. Spaghetti fritto may sound & look silly in that heap topped with a giant sprig of rosemary—presentation is not Giacomo’s forte—but it tasted okay all right, sauteéd in butter & garlic with peppers, onions & mushrooms.

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Better still was the side that came with it—a small meal in itself, composed of a meatball & a chunk of sausage, both housemade, in marinara. Seemingly mostly pork, they were nice & rich if quite mild (no peperoncini or fennel seeds here).

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Earlier objections notwithstanding, a plate of those in a low-lit, still-life-hung & faux-ivy-strewn dining room with Sinatra (you expected who else?) in the background has got to beat the heck out of a McAnything gulped down in the glare of a corporate pit stop.