Elegant and simple, yet so delicious and healthy; chef Patrick Nuti clearly creates a style of traditional Tuscan cooking with a contemporary effect. The menu embraces Tuscan traditions combined with new and exotic ideas that awaken your senses. Here you will see the artistic, cultural, and intellectual traits of the chef who started his classical culinary training in his hometown of Florence, Italy.
At Giovanni, you will experience creative Tuscan cuisine in a cozy and sophisticated atmosphere. The chef is clearly passionate about his food. Chef Nuti, ex Osteria del Circo, I Tulli, recently joined Giovanni to make a small and gradual change to the menu: something that is lighter and healthier with more vegetables. “The style of cooking is more contemporary with a reinterpretation on a few of the classics—just like remakes of the old movies,” the chef said.
Food is an art, but it is not like other arts. If it is a painting, you look at it. If it is music, you listen to it. But with food, you really have to experience it. Part of the experience is what surrounds the food: the people, the conversation, and the ambiance. So, for the chef, food has to come from somewhere else.
At Giovanni, Chef Nuti rolls out lively, forthright dishes in an unpretentious way. My friend and I enjoyed some of his more creative ones. For starters we had homemade mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes with a dash of olive oil and the Tominto Pio Mortese Cheese grilled and served over roasted vegetables that are an absolute knockout. With the soup comes amazing creativity. The seasonal pumpkin soup with honeydew melon topped with Amaretto cookies is served in a small round pumpkin. This extraordinary, joyous, and extravagant soup is a must. With these, a Pinot Grigio goes very well.
While waiting for the main course, Chef Nuti presented us with yet another incredibly beautiful and very tasty creation—a small part of a purple cauliflower with its green leaves standing on a cherry tomato, covered with truffle oil and melted rabiola cheese. Glorious is the word that comes to mind. It is the chef’s way of saying more vegetables, less butter, and more oil for a healthier meal. A 2005 Vernaccia, Terre di Tufi was recommended. A wine flight featuring six half-glasses chosen by the sommelier to complement the food is also offered.
All of the greens, salads, poultry, and milk-fed veal are organic at Giovanni. For the secondi option and for the ultra epicure, one can have the Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Truffle cooked in Chardonnay, served al dente and is sure to satiate your palate. A creamy, buttery, and non-oaky wine is highly recommended such as a Montrachet or a Vermentino. There is more to come. In the spirit of a more classical and comfort food style, the Tilapia with baby scallops sautéed with tomatoes, capers, and champagne sauce. Here a Pino Noir is highly recommended. If you have room for dessert, the apple-over puff pastry with ice cream or a poached pear with port wine with ice cream will be very refreshing after this wonderful meal.
Giovanni was established by Giovanni Fracescotti, who also opened Maruzzella on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Mr. Francescotti is a wine lover and personally oversees the beverage program at Giovanni, which includes an extensive grappa, single-malt scotch, bourbon, and port list. This impressive list has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since the restaurant opened 15 years ago.
Until Oct. 17, 2008, diners can enjoy a 5-course meal with a wine pairing and a highlight on wild mushrooms for the month of October for $80 with an American Express card only. Giovanni also offers a price fixed 3-course lunch and a pre-theater dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. that includes a light main dish choice of Filet of Sea Bass in a cherry tomato sauce and herbs.
THE VERDICT: A warm, healthy place with friendly people leaving you happy and in good spirits.
Dinner: A three course without wine will range between $48.50 and $65.50.
Giovanni is located at 47 West 55th street, between 5th & 6th Avenue.
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Giovanni caters for private parties.
For reservations call (212) 262-2828, http://www.giovanni-restaurant.com.