PALM BEACH GARDENS_Our quest to sample strip-mall restaurants this week took us to Italy by way of Palm Beach Gardens, with a stop at Giovanni's. Located adjacent to the Home Depot at 3900 Northlake, Giovanni's has been serving up authentic Italian cuisine for 18 years.
PAM: There is ample free parking, and the location is excellent, as it is in the same strip center as Home Depot (for Gerry, and True Treasures, a home goods consignment store, for me).
GERRY: Shopping and dining sharing a parking lot -- a classic two-for-one.
PAM: The restaurant is intimate, but not so small you share conversation with other diners. Large windows front the parking lot, so watching people coming and going to Home Depot is added entertainment. I enjoyed having lunch at a table with a real tablecloth. Fittingly, it was red. You get the Italian vibe without it being overdone. The music piping through their audio system was not what I expected. I am old-school in that I wanted to hear Dean or Frank kind of music. A small nit-pick.
GERRY: When you enter, it just feels Italian. You walk down a short corridor to be seated, which opens into a dining room where the tables, as you said, have real tablecloths. The placemats even have fun facts about Italy. Agree with the unusual music selections -- didn't expect rap while dining Italian.
PAM: As we opted for an early 11:30 lunch, the place was not busy, and we were invited to sit at any of the square tables. The round tables hold more people. Our server was prompt to deliver menus, and check on our drink order, which was iced tea. She was efficient, and friendly.
GERRY: I second that. Our server took good care of us throughout the meal. Quick refills on the iced tea, and you know how I love my iced tea.
PAM: We ordered garlic bread with cheese to get things rolling. It arrived in a basket and was fresh and generously seasoned. I do prefer my bread to be more lightly toasted, as I feel if over-toasted it loses a bit of flavor. Still, the soft portion was delicious. My selection of breaded chicken breast parmigiana, with a side of pasta, arrived and the serving was huge. I opted for penne, and it was covered in just enough sauce to allow the perfectly cooked pasta to shine. The sauce on both the chicken and pasta was absolute perfection for my taste. I sprinkled a few red pepper flakes and dry Parmesan over the top. It was not needed.
GERRY: I liked the crunch on the garlic bread, which also featured the optional mozzarella cheese. My choice of entree was breaded chicken Milanese with a side of angel hair spaghetti.. There was enough food for two people! My chicken was cooked perfectly, and so tender. I also loved the pasta sauce. We had to have two to-go boxes for sure.
PAM: Tiramisu is a favorite, and each restaurant brings their own flair. Naturally, I had to order it to sample their version. However, after making a significant dent in my entree, the dessert was packed-up, along with my remaining food, for the ride home. Eaten later, their version of Tiramisu is excellent.
VERDICT: Giovanni's remains one of our favorite places for Italian, and a great value to boot. We had two drinks, an appetizer, two entrees and dessert for less than $35. Try it, and like us, you'll be a regular, too.
Visit their website.
From left: Garlic Bread, Chicken Parmigiana and Chicken Milanese