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Jan 5, 2010 05:09 AM

A Shining Beacon in a Sea of Despair - A Detroit Destination

I recently had the opportunity to visit Giovanni's Ristorante in Detroit for the first time and was more than pleasantly surprised by some of the best Italian cuisine that I have had in any city accross the country. I was warmly greeted by Frances (the owner), who made me feel like a long lost relative. She was extremely gracious to the extent of sitting down with me to discuss various restaurants that we had both enjoyed during our travels, such as French Laundry. But on to the food, all of which is made from scratch and cooked to order - the calamari strip appetizer was prepared perfectly and tasted wonderful. Not the ususal rings, but tender and flavorful strips like I have had in Montery, CA. Also very much enjoyed the Veal Saltimbocca which was flavorful and tender. I decided on a side of risotto to accompany the veal and it too was an outstanding choice. For desert (all of which are home made from scratch) I had the cannoli. Wonderful flavor and a crispy, perfectly executed shell. When you have the need to visit Detroit, and have a taste for out of the ordinary Italian, this is a great place that you must try.

Giovanni's Ristorante
330 S. Oakwood Bld
Detroit, MI

Giovanni's Ristorante
330 S Oakwood, Detroit, MI 48217

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  1. I wish they would post cost on the website :(

    I am on a pretty limited income right now and like to know what I am going into. Can you give me the price range on entrees?

    2 Replies
    1. re: JanPrimus

      As I recall from about $17 - $36.

    2. Thanks for the recommendation. Need a place to take my sister-in-law's family that will impress them and this sounds perfect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mensch71

        Neighborhood is really not so bad--mostly industrial, and a straight shot in from South Dearborn.

      2. This is one of our favorite restaurants and really is a hidden gem...well worth the travel to visit this oasis of deliciousness and gracious service.

        1. Last Friday DH and I celebrated our anniversary. I was looking for some place we had never been before and ran across reviews on another board of Giovanni's. I thought this place almost sounds too good to be true! So glad we went. It was wonderful and we will be sure to go back. I didn't think the neighborhood was bad, just very industrial. You sure wouldn't expect to see this wonderful dining destination in the midst of it. We started out with the shrimp and risotto appetizer. Normally not a huge fan of risotto but this was wonderful. The taste and texture just perfect, the shrimp were sauteed in a rich butter garlic sauce. I had the lasagne....heaven! The meat sauce was so rich and delicious. Homemade pasta....about 16 layers of it. DH had Osso Bucco which was a special that night. The meat was so tender....served over noodles (homemade of course). The best part of the meal was dessert - I had a cannoli. I have never had a shell so thin and crispy yet so full of flavor. Because it was our anniversary the waitress also brought out a complimentary slice of tiramesu. Our waitress - Tina - was so nice, we really enjoyed chatting with her. The owner also came by our table to wish us happy anniversary. The only thing I'm disappointed in is that I've lived in the Detroit area all my life and never knew this place existed.

          1. Wow, not my experience at all. Had been hearing about it for years and finally tried it last year with my mom (she'd been there before but not in over a decade). We both wanted to love it, but we didn't think anything we tried was distinguished. And we were also disappointed by the generic remodeling job: my mom recalled it looking much cooler and older on her previous visit. I hate to bash any Detroit business, but anyone expecting excellent food here may be seriously disappointed. Though from the other comments here, I see that mine is a lonely voice. Which is a good thing for Giovanni's, I guess.

            4 Replies
            1. re: mrfinewine

              Yours is a fine and welcome opinion, though. Not everyone is going to like the same place for the same reasons, and sometimes you honestly hit a place on a bad night. The way you stated your experience is absolutely fair, and it's not vitriol-filled, like some of us can be (I'm looking at *you*, Mister Man-In-The-Mirror).

              Chowhound's about just this: different voices saying the truth as they see it. Sorry your time there wasn't as good as it has been for other people, but never stop being that "lonely voice", nor the voice that chimes in with the chorus...differing viewpoints are just fine.

              1. re: boagman

                Thanks, Boagman. And if I may say so, I think you have excellent taste. (Your repeated endorsements of Loui's especially stand out.)

                1. re: mrfinewine

                  Yeah, I might be selling all kinds of crap, but I don't *need* to sell Loui's...that stuff sells itself! Man, I just love their pizza, and while different days can offer some slight quality changes (it really can be all about who is in the kitchen on a given night...), even on the off nights, it's better than 95% of all other pizza out there. On the *best* nights, it's King of the Hill, Top of the Heap, get the gist of my point.

                  Actually, a couple of Sundays ago, I was at my folks' house in Ferndale, and had been reading ALL STINKING WEEK about pizza due to this website and another online foodie website. Ergo, when I was so close, I developed an urge for some Loui's. I'm usually good for two pieces, but when hungry, I can down three. Often, I'll ask my folks if they'll help me eat a small if I order it, and under *normal* circumstances, they'll each have a slice. Ipso facto, no pizza left.

                  On this particular Sunday, though, *both* said they didn't want any, and that left me with a dilemma: do I really want to spend $11 for the two pieces I'll eat? I'm not one who enjoys cold or reheated pizza.

                  You can guess the result: I ended up ordering the 'za, and when I got it home, it was nothing shy of *exceptional*, even for Loui's. I easily conquered two pieces, and then went on ahead and ate a *third*, with no problem. Considering that I wasn't uber-hungry, it was quite a feat, but sweet merciful heavens...that particular pie was just a-stinking-mazing. Even my folks, who ate the remaining piece the next day, agreed.

                  I really need to *not* talk about this anymore. Seriously. ;)

                  1. re: boagman

                    Ha ha, nice story. I'm usually good for three. The advantage of a small is that it's ALL CORNERS!! Surprised you don't like to reheat. Here's what I do (or did, when I actually lived there): wrap each leftover piece individually in foil and freeze it. When you want to eat it, uncover the top (you should have wrapped it so that this is possible) and put the piece directly on the rack in the toaster oven at 400 till it's cooked. It's still good, believe me!!!