Giovanni’s is a non-descript little Italian restaurant tucked away on a Shekou backstreet, however don’t let looks deceive you, this food is for real. Davis the owner and chef has 12 years’ experience as a chef in 5-star hotel kitchens in China, and trained under some top-quality Italian chefs. Now on his own, he decided to set up shop and do what he likes best, cook good food.
Upon entering, you won’t be blamed for setting your expectations low, I know that I did, but boy what a mistake I made. This is a small venue seating 16-20 people, with a long narrow layout, decorated with a mish mash of European knickknacks and some Lionel Messi posters. I guess this can be described as quaint rather than stylish, and you may even have walked past it without knowing it was there. Chances are upon entering you’ll be greeted by Davis, a very jovial character albeit a little shy.
He is very knowledgeable and passionate about his product, and you can tell that he really does enjoy what he’s doing. The menu is predominately Italian, although there are dishes from numerous countries on the menu, and even a small selection of Starfield dishes for vegetarians. His prices are well within reason for the Shekou area, and actually when you try the food for yourself, you may even think it is a little under-priced. The majority of the ingredients for the dishes are imported, and the chef makes absolutely everything by hand himself.
As one would hope with an Italian restaurant the pizza and pasta play a heavy role both on the menu and in the kitchen. The Parma ham pizza was excellent, with a good base and crust, great Parma ham, generous portion of cheese, topped off with a sprig of garnish. This is always my go to pizza in an Italian restaurant and I was not disappointed. At 88 RMB for a 12 inch this is comparable for the Shekou area.
My favourite dish was the pesto pasta. As this is one of my favourite of all foods, I am usually left disappointed, however this was absolutely excellent. The pesto sauce is made fresh daily and the flavors really shine through. It was thick and flavorful and didn’t last long! 68 RMB is a great price for such a tasty dish.
The tomato and mozzarella Caprese and the bruschetta were both good, but as they are simple dishes to execute you would expect that to be the case. The mozzarella especially was high quality and that trademark taste we know and love.
The meal was finished with two trademark Italian dishes, panna cotta (28RMB) and tiramisu (48RMB) Again, both made by the chef and the homemade feel shines through in the taste. The panna cotta is velvety smooth and the tiramisu has a subtle hint of coffee and a nice balance of sweetness. Great way to end the meal. The dinner was washed down by good red wine which at 38 RMB per glass is very reasonable.
All in all if you fancy an Italian meal and don’t want to break the bank in doing so, I recommend Giovanni’s Italian restaurant, no matter the dish I’m sure you’ll be satisfied. And the fact that this restaurant is rated number 5 on Dianping for western food in Nanshan, it seems the locals agree too.