A delightful southern Italian ristorante serving fine pastas and exceptional veal and chicken dishes in a candlelit dining room.
Giovanni is a lucky discovery for anybody cruising Ventura Boulevard for a casual place to recharge, and a blessing for the neighborhood locals who pack the intimate dining room. Named after the affable chef-owner’s father, whose black-and-white photos of family line the mustard-colored walls, this cozy, candlelit ristorante is a loving tribute indeed. The southern Italian fare is not fancy but consistently satisfying, incorporating high-quality ingredients and a rustic yet sophisticated style. The Caesar is garden-fresh and assertively seasoned, and the pastas are done just right. The kitchen excels at chicken and veal dishes; and a Milanese-style butterflied veal chop, too big for the plate, is at once crispy and buttery tender. Other options we like include gnocchi in pesto, a fine shrimp scampi, osso buco, pizzas and calzone. For dessert, we recommend the tiramisu and cannoli, which are made fresh in-house.
Italian Restaurant-Catering-Late Dining-Live Music-In Woodland Hills
- Lunch-Dinner-Full Bar
A beautiful slice of Jersey in Woodland Hills, CA. Giovanni Ristorante was named in memory of Chef and owner Richard Grosso’s late father. Giovanni came to America in 1929, working 2 sometimes 3 jobs to help support his family back in Italy. Feeding people great food is how we show our love and care for our customers. We at Giovanni Ristorante pride ourselves in making people feel at home by how and what we prepare for them. This is the foundation for our Southern style Italian Restaurant. Giovanni Ristorante assures you, our freshly made food and our service will always be filled with the love, care and commitment that you deserve. We are open 7 nights for dinner and Monday through Friday for lunch serving the finest Southern style Italian cuisine in a unique family atmosphere. No corporate feel here. It will be like going to your best Italian friend’s house for dinner.
Provided by Citysearch
So many sauces, so many soups
Variety is the spice of
By Larry Lipson
Restaurant Critic Daily News
Friday November 8, 2002
The menu of the new little Giovanni Ristorante in Woodland Hills, which replaced Verdi, is pretty much the tried and the true, the traditional American-Italian fare.
It’s all there, from the spaghetti and meatballs to baked mostaccioli. But credit Giovanni’s kitchen with some good cooking, especially in the appetizer, seafood and chicken entree categories. And huzzahs for its addictive house-baked focaccia. Admittedly, this is no dreary, boring, strictly red sauce Italian.
In fact, the kitchen prides itself on the number of sauces you can choose from with your De Cecco pasta dishes.
There’s the fresh marinara sauce made daily, a mushroom version of the same made with fresh mushrooms, a fresh meat sauce, a puttanesca sauce (mild or spicy), a spicy arrabbiata sauce, a basil pesto sauce, a fresh tomato and basil mixture, a creamy alfredo, an aglio e olio (olive oil and garlic), a primavera of vegetables made with either the marinara or the aglio e olio preparation, a fresh chopped tomato and basil with garlic topping and other mixtures like broccoli and basil with garlic and oil or sausage with marinara.
But it’s dishes like a rendition of chicken marsala ($11.95) and cioppino ($18.95) that separate Giovanni from the run-of-the-mill, neighborhood, family Italian cafe.
The boneless chicken breast here is cooked flawlessly. This means it is moist and tender, not dry and tough. It means that every bite ensures a softness and lilting flavor, allowing additions like that of the marsala wine richness to come through. Allowing the crunch of each fresh mushroom on the tooth.
That cooking expertise with breast of chicken also shines through in the house cacciatore dish ($11.95) where the marinara sauce is enhanced primarily with mushrooms, sweet bell peppers and onions.
Veal marsala ($14.95), though it doesn’t impress as much as the chicken version, shouldn’t disappoint, because the veal medallions display the necessary modicum of softness.
And in the seafood arena, it’s the cioppino that satisfies most, closely followed in gratification by a refreshing, cold, lemony salad of scungilli and calamari ($7.95) and in third place a decent bowl of fresh littleneck clams ($8.95) in a steaming white wine and garlic broth.
The hearty cioppino brings to the fore a heaping of milky-white chewable calamari, fresh clams and mussels en shell, crunchy shrimp and several large pieces of tasty fish in an herbal tomato broth boosted with clam juice. Giving the soupy bowl plenty of extra heft is a generous portion of al dente linguini, obviously added at the last minute to avoid mushiness.
Too bad, though, that this isn’t the case with the house minestrone soup ($3.95) which has good taste but possesses extremely mushy pasta.
On the other hand, the stracciatella ($4.95) is a fine version of Italy’s “little rags’ egg drop chicken soup with the usual accompaniments of baby spinach and angel hair noodles.
Although we only tried the above two, an Italian kitchen that makes five soups has to be lauded. Giovanni also makes a clam soup, a pasta e fagioli soup with cannellini beans and uses the same beans in an escarole and bean soup ($4.95 each). Though it doesn’t bother with osso buco, any lamb dishes or an expensive veal chop, Giovanni serves up gratifying Naples-style steak piazzaiola ($18.95) with a New York cooked to order topped with a garlicky tomato and mushroom sauce. On the walls of the narrow dining room are vintage black and white photos of Giovanni’s family.
Looks like they enjoyed life with gusto and would expect patrons of a restaurant with their name to savor the food with the same exuberance.
What our Guest’s are saying about us…
This dinner restaurant continues to be excellent and has survived the move from across the street. Good work, Richie!”
“Food was excellent. Had Jazz entertainement after 9:00 p.m. and the owner got up and sang. A real enjoyable evening.”
“Great food and service. Will definetly eat there again. Sorry it took so long to find such a great restaurant in the neighborhood.”
I strongly recommend setting up reservations through opentable.com because Giovanni Ristorante is very busy, especially on Friday nights and weekends.
They had so many specials it boggled my mind and made my mouth water. The Ossobuco with gnocchi was excellent. It is difficult to make gnocchi with just the right texture. My son had the Salmon Linguini in vodka sauce and said it was outstanding.- Taniya