Joe Karimani, owner of Joe's Italian Kitchen in Pflugerville, said he pulled from recipes he learned as a child in northern Italy when creating his menu. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Joe Karimani, owner of Joe's Italian Kitchen in Pflugerville, said he first fell in love with authentic Italian cooking during his childhood in northern Italy. Karimani spent his days sitting in his grandfather's kitchen as his grandfather labored over crafting the perfect noodles and sauces. Karimani said cooking is so much more than the individual ingredients that compose a dish. Cooking, he said, is a labor of love.
"It’s part of the family—we love eating good food and drinking good wine," he said. "When I’m in the kitchen, I’m not stressed."
Karimani first moved to Pflugerville in 2010 to open a pizza shop on Parmer Lane after owning several restaurants in Houston and Dallas. He opened Joe's Italian Kitchen nearly two years ago and said the community's response since has been nothing short of profound.
"The first year is the most difficult one," Karimani said. "I spent all my savings here, but fortunately, people have been very, very good to me. Pflugerville has embraced me."
He said his chicken parmigiana dish is likely his most popular, along with his calzones, tortellini Bolognese and spaghetti with meat sauce. Everything in his kitchen is made from scratch, he said, echoing back to the recipes he learned from his grandfather.
"When I opened this from scratch, my idea was I’m going to make home cooking the Italian way, and I don’t want nobody to leave hungry out of here," Karimani said. "I’m not trying to cut corners and become a millionaire. I’m not here to get rich and leave here. I want to be here forever."
The secret to authentic Italian food, Karimani said, is the love poured into each recipe. Growing up in Italy, he said he remembers his grandmother preparing him tortellini and butter, his favorite as a child. Today, Joe's Italian Kitchen serves three tortellini-based dishes in her honor.
"I have a saying there in Italian—it says 'entri come amici, vada come famiglia,'" Karimani said. "It means ‘come in as a friend, leave as a family.’ When I saw that, I said I have to have that—that’s perfect to me."Joe's Italian Kitchen
1615 Grand Avenue Parkway, Ste. 214, Pflugerville
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., closed Sun.