From Sue, 10/31/2007

Bay City Times Food Critic

Giovanni's, the Gran Torino of Italian Eateries

I was introduced to this quaint cafe by an acquaintance of mine, a man going by the charming moniker of Enveloping Ursine. It seems that this little hole-in-the-wall recently gained notoriety when a local police officer was gunned down prior to an aborted mob hit. Having nothing better to do at eleven forty on a Friday evening, I agreed to 'give it a looksee, ya dig?'

I found the interior of the establishment to be slightly overblown, decorated in 'early plastic fruit' and 'striped (or in this case, checked) tomato'. The waitress who seated me was quite vapid, insisting on patting me down for weapons and warning me that there was officially no one left in her family to either threaten or murder.

After brushing off her increasingly strange offers--and really, what would I want with a water pitcher, a tablecloth, and an ammunition clip?--I picked up the red-tasseled menu and made my choices.

The first to arrive was interestingly entitled "Calamari ala Starsky", which was promised to have "squid so fresh, it's still twitching--just like its namesake!" served over a bed of linguini and smothered with a supposedly bold and brash blood sauce, with a side of "extra fresh" vegetables to round it out.

Well, I must say that dining on still-twitching squid is a trial one should have to endure only once per lifetime, and I'm quite thankful my turn at it is over. Sadly, the linguini was overdone to the consistency of porridge, and the blood sauce, far from being 'bold and brash' was quite watery and weak, with only perhaps a teaspoonful of blood, if that. There seemed to be nothing "extra fresh" about the vegetables, though the broccoli did display an annoying propensity for jumping off my fork and landing in my lap for reasons I have no wish to delve into very closely.

After that culinary disaster, I was not looking forward to the second item I'd chosen, the "Blond Blintz and Bottomless Beer". I was, however, most pleasantly surprised by this dish. Despite its rather sophomoric name, it was a delightful German/Nordic/Jewish/Italian fusion that, somehow, managed to combine all of its flavors wonderfully. The blintz was cooked to true perfection, and the variety of cheeses in the stuffing were, quite frankly, as astounding as they were astonishing. I wouldn't, however, call the beer "bottomless" but rather an illusion that depended upon the perspective of the consumer. From my point of view, the glass always appeared half-full, with a delightfully thick, firm head, while from my dining companion's point of view, the stein appeared completely full with a weak to absent head. I found the illusion interesting, to say the least.

Lastly, deciding to bypass the celebrated 'vino de casa', I ordered a bottle of Asti VicMonte, supposedly the Don of all sparkling Italian wines with a bold presence and a bouquet that demanded respect. Unfortunately, the wine did not live up to its Godfather billing. Rather, it exhibited a rather lackluster bouquet and showed the annoying propensity to turn tail and run at the first sign of heat. Such an insipid little wine has no place on any self-respecting "La Familia" table.

Alas, since the first symptoms of food poisoning were beginning to set in, I regretfully left before I could consume the Joey Calzone, the crust of which was guaranteed to be 'wrapped tighter than a drum'. Just as well, if it spared me an extra day at the hospital.

In the future, I shall be sure and ignore any further recommendations from Enveloping Ursine, and give this review a minus five stars(kys).




October 31, 2007