On a recent windswept spring evening, my fiancée and I visited Don Giovanni Ristorante, a very sweet Italian restaurant with two locations in Manhattan that are about equal distant from our apartment. One of the locations is 214 tenth avenue between 22nd & 23rd Streets; the other and the one we visited this evening is located at 358 W 44th St. just west of the theatre district and very nearby several off Broadway houses. Both have identical menu’s which include a wide array of appetizers including mussels, mozzarella, and bruschetta among many others; soups, salads, your pick of your favorite standard pastas dishes, and Italian entrees as well as their famous brick oven pizza.
What’s really great about Giovanni though, is the ambiance. When you walk in the dinging area looks rather small and almost smashed together with the takeout area, the cash register, and one of the multi-tiered, open-fire grills where they bake their pies. But once you sit you’re swept unto a world all your own. The wooden tables are low to the ground as are the full backed wooden seats which envelop you so that, even though you’re sitting just next to someone, perhaps on either side, your conversations and your dining experience are all your own. What an added benefit if there are seats available near the window to lazily crunch ice cubes in your mouth and during elapsed pauses gaze as the harried hurried shuffle past.
No window seat today but that was okay as we sat flush against the wall, opposite the door, in a tiny nook all our own. The candle lit table was brilliant; I ordered a bottle of a reasonably priced Spanish red wine and we raised a glass high.
There was no need for appetizers today as it was just the two of us; we’d eaten here before and I’ve got to be honest, the appetizers are a meal unto their own unless they’re shared amongst a large party. She considered something from their specials menu (Chicken Cordon Bleu) but she wasn’t hungry enough for anything that large either so she ordered a simple ravioli in pink sauce, which she called, “Creamy Fabulousness,” and I, remembering my little brother who’d emailed me earlier in the day from Iraq and told me that they now all had to wear body armor in the green zone, and our last meal together before he was sent away, ordered his favorite the tender and delicious Chicken Parmigiana.
The conversation flowed easily; the service was spot on whenever we needed them, the servings were hearty without being gluttonous, and the inexpensive and biting wine flowed freely. For an escape from the everyday, come check out my favorite midtown Italian, Don Giovanni!