Dangerously good pizza

Dangerously good pizza

Will the real Giovanni’s please stand up?

By Hannah Guzik 05/22/2008

Giovanni’s
1780 S. Victoria Ave., No. D, Ventura
650-6080
giovanniscarp.com
$6-$22

Somehow, they’ve been doing it for years.

Managing to stay under the public radar, they’ve been smuggling high-quality goods in and out of a little storefront on Victoria Avenue in Ventura, taking payments, amping up their assets and giving incentives to cops and other government employees.

They are the Giovanni family, and their business is pizza.

An institution in Montecito and Carpinteria, Giovanni’s opened up in Ventura, in the Ralphs shopping center, several years ago.

Famous for its Italian pizzas, the order-at-the-counter restaurant also serves pasta, sandwiches and salads. They offer a 20 percent discount to government employees with ID.

Earlier this month, two friends and I dined at the Ventura restaurant. The day was hot and after ordering a classic pepperoni pizza (for my friends) and a vegetarian pizza (for me), we sat outside, underneath the awnings.

The restaurant décor — sparse but clean — follows the color scheme of the Italian flag, red, green and white.

Even though it was lunch hour, the pizza parlor was uncrowded, and the three no-nonsense workers, who we could see through the storefront window, looked like they had been making pizzas from the womb. Their grizzled hands carefully chopped the veggies: mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and olives, their chiseled Italian features assessed the dough, studied the sauce.

It appeared they were making darn good pizzas, and it appeared they knew it.

Like any hardcore outfit, the Giovanni’s have had their scuffles. The most recent one, though, is in cyberspace. That’s because there are actually two separate chains of Giovanni’s restaurants, both claiming to have the best pizza.

On its Web site, the chain in Ventura, Carpinteria and Montecito calls itself “The Original” Giovanni’s. The other group, located in Santa Barbara and Goleta, calls itself the “founding family of Giovanni’s Pizza Restaurants,” according to its Web site, giovannispizzasb.com.

Where the truth lies is anyone’s guess, but good luck getting information out of the Ventura location. I casually asked the man who took our order about it, who said the Ventura restaurant was operated by the original Giovanni family, but also that the restaurant was the “exact same” as the ones in Santa Barbara.

Whatever that means.

He didn’t offer any information other than that, and after glancing at the expression on his face, I didn’t feel like pressing him.

He looked like he was just as capable of flattening a person as he was of flattening a pizza.

So I sat down and few minutes later my vegetarian pizza arrived, hand-delivered by The Flattener himself.

The pepperoni was already steaming on table, and so we dug in.

By the looks of it, the pizza makers went heavy on the pepperoni, light on the sauce and generously sprinkled herbs over the entire dish. Both parties raved about the pizza, one especially liked how little sauce was used and the other got excited about the thinness of the crust, which was slightly crunchy, he said.

As for the veggie, I was impressed by how many mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and olives they had crammed onto the eight-inch pizza, which was made with thin crust as well, a new option at the restaurant. A small, seven-inch, deep-dish pizza is also offered, along with the standard medium, large and extra-large sizes.

For the amount of toppings and the quality of ingredients (think less grease, more real cheese and fresh vegetables), the pizzas were also reasonably priced. The large, 14-inch pepperoni rang in at $14.95 and the small veggie cost $6.95.

The overall consensus between the other two diners and I was clear.

Giovanni’s pizzas are good – dangerously good.                               

DIGG | del.icio.us | REDDIT

Other Stories by Hannah Guzik

Related Articles

Comments

My experience at this restaurant was awful, and I do not recommend it to anyone. I used a restaurant.com dining certificate. At first the owner or manager told me I could not use the restaurant certificate. Then he told me I needed to provide the credit card receipt for buying the certificate, which I didnt have since I redeemed some of mycokerewards points to get the certificate. Then he told me I was supposed to have the certificate validated before I came but he would do it this time. I have used the certificates before at other restaurants and never had a problem with it needing validation first or having to provide a receipt for buying it. When I tried to tell him that he brushed me off and wouldn't let me finish talking. He just said he would let me use it this time. The pizza did not taste good at all. It tasted raw. The toppings were not cooked enough and the dough was very tough. I think it put some cuts into my gums. They had a bunch of frames hanging on the wall with pictures of a Santa Barbara newspaper saying Giovanni's was voted the best pizza, but that's for the Giovanni's in Santa Barbara which I have been too and there pizza is a 100% better as well as the atmosphere of their restaurant. There were no customers coming in the whole time we were there which seems unusual for a pizza place on a Saturday evening at 6 pm. To top it all off, the time we were there the owner and another employee proceeded to stare at my party the whole time we were eating making us very uncomfortable. I felt embarrased for suggesiting we go there, although the people I was with said it was not my fault since I couldn't have known. I will not go there again!

posted by hoddieme on 11/23/09 @ 12:34 p.m.
Post A Comment

Requires free registration.

(Forgotten your password?")