Editor's note: Things change frequently in the restaurant business, and this article was written more than one year ago. The menu, service, atmosphere and quality may have changed.

Giuseppe's Ristorante is downtown Bend's Italian food pioneer.

Giuseppe's features Italian favorites, such as spaghetti with meatballs and lasagna, and always will, owner Peggy Falcaro said. But there is also filet mignon, fresh steelhead and halibut and nightly specials like risotto and polenta dishes on the ever-changing menu.

Falcaro recently added chef Matt Neltner to the staff. Neltner moved over from the downtown fine-dining restaurant Cork, and brings with him a new flavor.

Falcaro said that Neltner's tomato sauce is ”vibrant and tomato-y. It melts in your mouth. Like you just stepped into Italy.”

This month, Neltner is serving an apple honey braised pork osso bucco as one of the specials.

The restaurant is also careful to cater to dietary needs. Gluten-free rice pasta can be substituted for any pasta.

Giuseppe's opened its doors in 1985, when boarded-up shops stared out on empty sidewalks in downtown Bend.

But Falcaro was sure there was room here for homestyle Italian food.

”I'm Italian and originally from New York,” said Falcaro. ”I missed good Italian cuisine.”

Thus Giuseppe's was born, named for Falcaro's grandfather, Joseph (Giuseppe is the Italian version of Joseph).

The brick walls are peppered with wine corks stuck into the brick joints by diners, who often sign and date the corks. Tables covered with white paper add to the informal feel of Giuseppe's and deep, high-walled booths provide plenty of privacy.

Falcaro remodeled the restaurant several years ago, moving the bar from the front of the space to the rear to enlarge the dining room and create Goomba's, Giuseppe's lounge with its own dining menu and entrance off Tin Pan Alley. ”Goomba” is an Italian slang word for friend.

Giuseppe's carries more than 80 kinds of wine, Falcaro said, including about a dozen available by the glass. She encourages patrons to question the wait staff about pairing food with wine so diners can experience the full range of flavors from the menu.