Elegant dining never goes out of style at Ristorante Giovanni’s in Beachwood. Ranked as one of the country’s Top 120 restaurants in 2012 by Zagat, Giovanni’s continues to offer the finest Italian cuisine — from house-made pastas to seafood to veal. The menu is matched by an impressive wine cellar and the restaurant’s legendary tableside service, the hallmark of owner Carl Quagliata’s restaurant since its 1976 opening.
It’s a hard business. You have to have determination. You have to have a really good succession of great chefs.
Zach Ladner, who has been here for the past 10 years, is one of the best we’ve ever had. He puts out a quality product. My maitre d’ Pier-Luigi Gregori has been with me for 40 years. We’ve had several people who worked here for 20-25 years. I’m 81 years old, and I’m at the front desk every single night.
I love dealing with people. Giovanni’s is special. It’s a throwback. The service is the most important thing — you can have great food and bad service, and the food will taste bad. We create the experience and people come. We are on our third generation of customers. We’ve watched them grow up. About 65% of our customers are return guests.
When we opened, it was almost a fish restaurant; we sold a lot of halibut and sole. Now we’re more continental. I don’t think tastes have really changed that much. The veal chop, veal Parmesan with pasta crust and seafood linguini are still popular.
We remodeled the bar about five years ago and now it’s really, really tough to get a seat there. It’s a horseshoe bar so you can see each other. It has a nice, clean look to it. You have to give your heart and soul to this, but you learn something every day. I just love doing what I’m doing. — as told to Barry Goodrich
When You Go: Ristorante Giovanni’s, 25550 Chagrin Blvd., Beachwood, 216-831-8625, giovanniscleveland.com
Read More: Click here to read the full list of 18 Classic Cleveland Restaurants.