E, M at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.; F at 57th St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
On a quiet, well-manicured street shared by the publishing den Michael's and the brasserie that was once La Côte Basque, Giovanni's Ristorante comes by its restraint honestly. Hanging on its pale walls are cheerful, Matisse-like paintings of mythological scenes alternating with delicately lit sconces. The carefully executed lighting, widely spaced tables, and unhurried but efficient service all help set Giovanni apart from other equally expensive but less restful Midtown restaurants. Judging by the satisfied looks on the cheerful businesspeople, tourists, and couples, Giovanni knows its business. The Northern Italian food here is as restrained as the surroundings, with rich, complex sauces and spices, careful presentation, and high-quality ingredients. In keeping with its northern Italy inspirations, the menu is strong in risottos and pasta in rich cream sauces. Nut-lovers may want to consider the unusual Capellacci di Carne alla Salsa di Noci, large ravioli filled with meat in a cream sauce whose richness is counterbalanced by the slightly bitter taste of chopped up walnuts and walnut oil. And meat entrees, often a distant second choice in Italian choices, shouldn't be overlooked: The richly roasted lamb chops, for instance, are tender, fresh-tasting, and redolent of the classic lamb accompaniment, rosemary.Recommended Dishes
Capellacci di carne alla salsa di noci, $20.75; carrè d'agnello al forno con salsa all'oglio dolce, $36.75