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Friday, August 9, 2013

Giovanni's Inn

We used to live in the general area of Giovanni's Inn and I remember visiting quite a few years ago but leaving after reviewing the menu. At the time, the prices were more than we could pay for a young family of four.  When the Mr. and I have a chance to go out to dinner, 95% of the time we opt for a locally owned place rather than a chain and if the Mr. has a say, he wants Italian food. By Italian food he means either Chicken Marsala or Parmesan with a side of pasta smothered in a sweet tomato sauce. He likes his salad with bread and his coffee not too strong.  A simple man to please, right?  

The challenge is adding my palette and opinion. I am a bit more willing to take a risk but I do eat with my eyes and want to be impressed. I also judge the appearance, decor, staff, wait times, friendliness, cleanliness, atmosphere and overall likelihood of ever recommending a restaurant. Would I take an out of town visitor to this restaurant?

I'm not quite sure about Giovanni's Inn.  I will let you decide.

First impressions:

While nothing is glaringly wrong, it reminds me of something that has passed its prime; worn, not as cared for, a bit dull.

We are told we can sit anywhere and honestly, I walked in, looked around and if I didn't think the Mr. and our son would die of mortification, I probably would have left. I thought a table by the window may be best and this was our view into the restaurant.

If you look very carefully on the right hand side of the photo you may make out a lady with blonde hair in a black top sitting at a piano.  Marilyn was one of the evenings highlights (but more about her later). The wall behind me as well as the one to my right were covered in ribbons.  I believe they were for show dogs but I can't be sure. The mounted deer head in the left of the photo (not the various ones over the bar) was across from a lovely stuffed raccoon, and a number of "God's Eye" pieces hung on the walls. The feeling was cluttered and forlorn. I am still hopeful.

We order our drinks and I perk up a bit. The presentation is lovely and our son swears it is the best iced tea ever.

My Cosmopolitan tasted like the proportions were just a little bit off, but the glass was chilled. Fabulous.

Who can resist a classic or vintage vibe in glassware?

Marilyn Kennedy continues to play the piano and sing facing the wall.  Her voice is crystal clear and wonderful though my husband and song have yet to recognize her choices.  I decide to request, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and we chat for a few moments. Marilyn is absolutely lovely and nails my request.  In the meantime, a young couple are seated and asked their server if she could turn the music down. They never saw Marilyn and didn't realize they were being treated to a free and live performance.

First course was a clam appetizer that was not listed on the menu but a special told to us by our server.

The clams were amazing and though the Mr. picked out all of the chunks of garlic, the sauce was flavored beautifully.  However, what was the circle outline from on our dish? A price tag? I was going to edit the photo, but thought it best if readers see it the way we saw it.

Honestly, I want to like the restaurant and am a huge supporter of local businesses. I ask our server how long they have been in business - 22 years. Maybe the owners/managers no longer see their business through a new customer's eyes.

Salads were next. Crisp lettuce, red onions and cucumber were in our individual dishes. A bowl of "cucumber salad" was also placed on the table for us without any further explanation. None of us tried it. The ribbons of cucumber were swimming in something and since we weren't really clear about the contents of the dish we decided not to try it.

Time for our main courses. For the Mr....

I tasted it.  The sauce was little thin, but it was quite flavorful and I knew it was almost exactly what he would want in Chicken Marsala. He doesn't really like the wine to overpower the dish and it was a fairly healthy serving of chicken.

For our son...

The chicken looks too familiar. The serving size is generous, but it just looks a little sad doesn't it? Penne a la Vodka with Chicken.  

And here's mine...

One of the evening's specials, described as "Scallops and Shrimp Risotto."  Not quite what I pictured. BUT, it was good.  The seafood was a decent texture and the sauce hearty. Risotto? 

Marilyn continues her serenade, the young people are eating, the regulars are chatting and I overhear the dessert specials. I must try the cannoli.  They are described as, "a crispy shell that is filled with a fresh creamy ricotta filling when ordered."  Yum.

Cannoli deserve 2 views:

They were in fact, delicious.

See how hard it can be to review a restaurant.  In this case, a star system could have been useful as certain individual items would have scored at far ends of the spectrum. We had a wonderful time together and felt especially entertained by the star, Marilyn Kennedy.  I bought her CD so the memory of the evening can continue to be revisited and leave me feeling musically Fed Well.

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