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In the mood for GREAT italian. Bacco or Giovannis???!!!?? [DTW]

Want to go out for a nice dinner Saturday night with the wife. We are both in the mood for good Italian. First thought was Bacco....then we thought Giovannis. We are torn, any comments would be appreciated.

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  1. I'm not a local so have only eaten at both places once, but I thought the food at Giovannis was far superior to the food at Bacco. Bacco had a marginally nicer ambiance (and of course, the neighborhood is much more upscale), but really, Giovanni's food was so good it elevated the experience. We'll go back next time we're in town to Giovannis, but not to Bacco. G's is also less expensive than B's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      I totally agree. Giovanni's is the BEST Italian restaurant in Metro-Detroit. If it's good enough for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, then that's where I want to be!

    2. Here it is, right up front: I have never been to, nor tried the cuisine of, Bacco. I can't speak to that.

      What I *can* say though, with absolute confidence, is just go to Giovanni's Ristorante. Just go. I have never, ever had a bad meal, bad service...heck, I've never even had a bad *course* here. Read that again: I've never sent *anything* back. Ever.

      You must, you must, you must try the pasta. It's otherworldly. By leaps and bounds, it's the best I've ever had, and it makes my mouth water any time I think of it.

      Oh, you know what? Don't just take my word for it. Here:


      Click the link. Read. Then go. It's spectacular, and I can't think of a single thing to complain about.

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

      1. I think you'll be pleased with the food at either establishment.

        I'll also suggest Maria's in West Bloomfield. A (very) small upscale
        italian restaurant. Resv required. A bit less expensive than Bacco.


        1. went to giovannis last night. not half bad...really nice people and service. not a very imaginative menu though...gnocchi was nice, soft, can taste the potatoes. Likewise for the cannelloni. no dessert or apps for us.

          8 Replies
          1. re: gan911

            "Not half bad"? Wow...am I wrong, or is that a thinly-veiled backhanded compliment? Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

            I hope that you were able to get the side of pasta (linguine) and tried that. You definitely made a mistake in missing out on the tiramisu...to me, it's absolutely dynamite. I think their calamari app is great, but it's *very* large, and between two people, it probably would have been too much. I've found that their touch with seafood is marvelous, as well, from perch to shrimp and whatnot. Be that as it may, I could be absolutely, thoroughly content with a plate of their linguine and their meat sauce.

            Gan, I've gotta ask: can you define "imaginative" in this context? I think their menu is wonderful, and they certainly offer specials off the menu that are great, too. If you're looking for "redefined" or "new" or "avant guarde" or "gastronomic" Italian, then no, Giovanni's isn't the place, but for true fantastic "real" Italian food, I don't know of any better place.

            1. re: boagman

              I don't know what else to say other than not half bad... i mean they do the classics well. I was thinking that this place is along the lines of vetri or osteria in philly...(http://www.osteriaphilly.com/index.ph...)
              I look that menu, and i say, wow everything looks interesting and imaginative...more exotic cuts of meat, different cooking styles, textures, flavors...There's nothing wrong with old school italian pasta with 4 sauce choices, which after tasting the bolognese and pomodoro, are absolutely solid. I was just looking for something more inventive.
              The special was swordfish with a lemon/butter/caper sauce ... I mean I can sear a piece of swordfish, deglaze with white wine, add shallots, lemon, capers, and ended it with some old butter. Old school, solid, but not exciting me a single bit.
              I didn't get the linguini on the side nor the tiramisu because I didn't have much room. perhaps next time.
              THe only other thing that bugged me about the place is the $5 valet. I chose street parking across the street.

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

              1. re: gan911

                Okay, that's fair. As stated before, I don't consider it to be anything nouveau, but I fully believe that, at least in the traditional sense, they're absolutely fabulous for Italian food. I'm not sure that "inventive" would be an ideal descriptor for Giovanni's.

                It's a *darn* shame that you didn't check out the linguine and/or the tiramisu.

                About the valet: I'm right there with you, and I do the *exact same thing* that you do. I hate valet, and avoid it at all costs. Not hard to park on the street, either.

            2. re: gan911

              > not very imaginative (innovative)

              Concur. The kitchen sticks to the classics. Not the place to go when I'm seeking innovative.

              1. re: rainsux

                Gan's comment re imaginative/innovative got me thinking ... and struggling to suggest an
                italian restaurant that may qualify.

                Anyone been to Duo Venti?

                1. re: rainsux

                  No, I haven't, but I haven't had the money to go there, either. It does look pretty nice, but I'm never around there around lunchtime, either.

                  1. re: boagman

                    Thanks to everyone for thier input. We have an 8:00 reservation tonight for the Olive Garden. Looking forward to it. Thier chefs train in Tuscany you know.... JK!! Giovannis it is. I will post a short review in the next few days.

                    1. re: Quit2Chef

                      Okay; it's been ten, count'm 10, hours since your trek to Olive Garden. We're all
                      waiting for your report. (Tap, tap, tap.)

            3. My GF and I LOVE Bacco's. Its one of our go-to places for special occasions. Yes, its pretty pricey. Yes, its like stepping into the Housewives of West Bloomfield. But yes, we are blown away by how good our meal is everytime we go. Perfectly cooked fresh pasta with sauces that are vibrant with excellent full flavors. Their meats are incredible too.


              5 Replies
              1. re: donbui82

                Ok, so here is my short review: Went to Giovannis (couldn't get a table at the Olive Garden) this Saturday night. Packed house but we were seated within 5 minutes of our reservation time. First thing that my wife mentioned was that EVERYONE was so nice and polite. We started with the calamari which may have been the best I've ever had. Super tender and perfectly fried, with a wonderful lemon, caper burre blanc. Both went with the house salad. Very fresh greens and a wonderful house dressing (sort of a honey, basalmic, creamy italian thing). Wife got the perch which was overpowered by the lemon sauce but again very well prepared. I had the Brachiole (sp?) which was wonderful. Super light and airy tiramisu for dessert with the 23yr old Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve bourbon. Very rare find.
                All in all a great night out. Met the owner, chatted with half the staff, and generally had a wonderful time. Food was very good if not life-changing. Just perfectly executed classics that take you back in time a bit. We will be back for sure. Thank you all for your comments. Where next??

                1. re: Quit2Chef

                  I would suggest Bucci, in Grosse Pointe Woods.

                  1. re: Quit2Chef

                    After reading the comments RE Giovanni's--had to go when we were in Detroit this weekend. For the most part, I agree with the observations (I suspect the restaurant is very consistent). Place was packed--5 min. late for our 7:30 reservation. Listening and watching those at the tables, about 1/4 to 1/3 are regulars--many said to the staff as they were leaving: "see you next Friday." Friendly staff & chatty owner; loved that the server didn't push us--leisurely 2 hour dinner. FOOD was good, not great. The flavors were great, not typical American take on Italian, but everything was a little over cooked: risotto & linguine were way passed al dente. The beef tenderloin of the Manzo di Braciole was closer to well done than even medium well. When I didn't rave about it, the server asked if anything was wrong--I said it was overcooked. She said others had told her that, she had told the chef, and he said he couldn't cook the dish with medium rare beef. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm............ Nonetheless, an overall enjoyable meal. (Very decent wine list!)

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

                    1. re: Longing for Italy

                      That's...strange. The chef *couldn't* cook the beef any less than basically well done? I'd have told Fran (the owner) about it and seen what *she* said about that. That doesn't sound right.

                      I'm absolutely, positively aghast at your comments about the pasta. I have never, ever had the pasta be anything but the best I've ever had. I wonder what was wrong with the kitchen that night?

                      Glad you were still able to enjoy yourself, and that the food was at least "good". I was there myself for lunch just about a week ago, and loved every minute of it, especially the pasta with meat sauce. I probably overdid it a bit having the tiramisu for dessert at lunch, but still...I was *there*. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?

                      Wow, though...still can't believe that most everything you had was too well done. Glad it was still good. I'm sure the service was great, wasn't it?

                      1. re: boagman

                        A couple staff commented that they had been "swamped" all day--good problem, but by 8:00, maybe the kitchen staff was tired. Not much of an excuse, but...

                        I was perplexed about about the risotto--I admit to liking it drier, i.e., spot-on al dente, rather than creamy, but IMO, it was beyond creamy. The sauce for the linguine was great, but the linguine was almost creamy. Then the tenderloin... Overall, these were not personal quirks on my part, but manifestations of something going on in the kitchen.

                        Yes, it was good enough for a return trip. I really liked the "local" feel of the interactions of staff and patrons; THAT reminded me of my favorite places in Florence.