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Giovanni's Bar and Bistro Berkeley Heights

c
coldbeer Mar 19, 2013 06:46 AM

Has anyone been? The new chef is from Nicholas and worked under Dennis Foy...I think it's in the spot that used to be Divino's. I'm thinking of giving it a try, but the website states that the chef attended Johnson and Whales, not Johnson and Wales. I've never heard of Johnson and Whales. And if he did attend Johnson and Wales and they spelled it wrong, I would imagine that that lack of attention to detail will doom this place to every other spot that occupied that building.

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  1. angelo04 Mar 19, 2013 03:11 PM

    As in Nicholas of Red Bank?

    1. ambrose Mar 19, 2013 06:47 PM

      What was his position at Nicholas?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ambrose
        c
        coldbeer Mar 20, 2013 07:04 AM

        http://giovannisbistro.com/#info

        here's the bio

      2. c
        coldbeer Mar 20, 2013 05:10 AM

        We'll have to ask Rosie...

        http://njmonthly.com/blogs/tablehopwi...

        1. j
          johnnyrestaurant Mar 22, 2013 08:39 PM

          Yes, the spelling is incorrect. A new chef bio is in the works.

          The location has never been occupied before.

          It's byow on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings ( a promotional invitation ). Yes, despite the restaurant having a full liquor license, they do allow byow early in the week ( for a limited time, maybe longer ). It's about the food and offering a relaxed dining experience with casual but correct service. If you use the wrong fork, no bells are rung or citations written. The waiters there smile and laugh unlike other fusty establishments where a single smile is split among fifty covers.

          Please, coldbeer, let the place succeed or fail on it's food quality and service rather than on a silly spelling error.

          BTW, this chef has real chops.

          Full disclosure: I ate there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: johnnyrestaurant
            Curlz Mar 23, 2013 12:50 PM

            A little more full disclosure, please, Johnny...are you affiliated with the chef or the restaurant?

            1. re: Curlz
              j
              johnnyrestaurant Mar 23, 2013 08:09 PM

              Curlz,

              After eating there, I am considering a foh position. I was in the business for many years, but like so many others, I burnt out on the late nights, brunches, and lunches.

              But, if you've been involved with restaurants for any length of time, you know it never really leaves your blood. I always promised myself if I ever went back it would have to be at a place where I don't have to bs about the food to make a sale or stand at attention.

              But, my opinions are just that. You will have to visit yourself and report your own experience.

              BTW, I did try to edit my post, but the edit button vanished.

              1. re: johnnyrestaurant
                Curlz Mar 24, 2013 06:37 AM

                Makes sense--thanks for the clarification. So what did you eat there? Like/dislike? Obviously the 'vibe' worked for you... I'm just looking at that menu and don't see wild creativity to go along with those high (entree) prices. I realize that in BH most people won't blink, but I tend to lean towards restaurants that are making dishes that I either don't see everywhere or where the quality of the ingredients + the creativity blows me away each time (e.g., Blu in Montclair).

          2. c
            coldbeer Aug 20, 2013 05:45 AM

            This place got a great review from the New York Times on Sunday...can't wait to go back.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/nyr...

            1 Reply
            1. re: coldbeer
              t
              tommygphotos Aug 20, 2013 02:33 PM

              glad you posted this, we go to that area often and are in dire need of new digs around!!!

              Congrats on the great review

            2. f
              foodeenj Aug 23, 2013 09:02 AM

              We heard about Giovanni's from a good friend who enjoyed her experience there. We were also super excited after reading the NYT review because we have been looking for new places to try in Summit/Berkeley Heights/Westfield area. We went last night for dinner.

              The place was full for a Thursday night. It's quite small so reservations are definitely advised. The tables are very close to each other and the décor is somewhat bland. It's nice that there is window where you can look into the kitchen.

              Now onto the food. The menu is limited but everything is good quality. The special last night was halibut and it was very good. But at $32 for the entrée, I wouldn't say it was spectacular. It was actually kind of bland. We also got the steak ($36), which was cooked perfectly and it was good, but again nothing special. I think after reading the NYT review and knowing that the chef came from Nicholas, we expected to be blown away. At these prices and the fact that this isn't a BYOB like many restos in the area are, we hope that they can step it up. There are probably still some things the kitchen needs to work out. I do have to say the service was impeccable and top-notch.

              We're looking forward to going back soon to see if the dishes are more creative and offer more oomph for the money. Dinner for two with a couple of aps, entrees, two drinks and one dessert will run you around $200.

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