Destination: Giovanni's Kitchen
Brothers Frank and Carmelo Gabriele have combined their Italian roots along with their genetic knack as restaurateurs to open the affordable, yet high-quality Giovanni’s Kitchen in Ladue. The space was previously home to the brothers’ fast-casual concept, Cini, which had difficulty gaining a strong following at 8831 Ladue Rd. and also near Saint Louis University at 374 S. Grand Blvd. Now, the Gabrieles are drawing on influences from their other restaurant experiences, Giovanni’s on the Hill (owned by their father, Giovanni) and Il Bel Lago (owned by the brothers), in order to bring an approachable scratch Italian concept to Ladue.
Since undergoing renovations after Cini’s shuttering, the newly designed space at Giovanni’s Kitchen manages to feel both comforting and classy. Rich red walls add warmth to the dining room while decorative hanging light fixtures are a nice, modern touch. Black tablecloths are topped with sheets of butcher paper, which help maintain the balance between formal and casual. When counting the seats at the tables and bar, the restaurant has 70 chairs available during their lunch and dinner services.
Chef Alessandro Bozzato is at the forefront of the kitchen, bringing his experiences from Giovanni’s on the Hill to the family’s new Ladue location. For lunch there are paninis, pizzas, salads, artisan pastas and a handful of meat and fish entrées. Most items hover between $9 and $12 and though seafood plates sit a little higher at $16, Giovanni’s Kitchen is still an affordable option.
On the lunch menu, standouts include the Salamino panini, which packs a flavorful punch thanks to house-made mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and fresh oregano. Another satisfying option are Giovanni’s pastas, such as the homemade tagliatelle tossed with a Chianti and rosemary meat sauce and finished with a splash of cream and shaved Parmigiano cheese. Also try Giovanni’s grilled Alaskan salmon served on a bed of spinach and angel hair pasta or their aged beef tenderloin medallions with creamy polenta.
For dinner, appetizers are added to the mix along with an increased variety of main entrée options. The calamaretti is a great go-to for beginning a meal, with flash-fried rings of squid and slices of zucchini served alongside a candied lemon sauce. For a stunning presentation, try the whole-roasted branzino (Mediterranean bass) that’s served with fingerling potatoes and tomato confit. Pork lovers shouldn’t pass up their oven-roasted, double-cut chop that’s dished up with sour apples and a drizzle of mint syrup, while any carnivores’ cravings could be met by the aged New York strip served over fresh arugula. Also, there’s plenty of vino to sip while enjoying dinner; Giovanni’s Kitchen offers 80 different bottles along with 20 varieties offered by the glass.
Open Monday through Friday from 11am to 11pm and Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. 8831 Ladue Rd., Ladue, 314.721.4100.