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  • December 22, 2014

Giovanni's on the Hill: Dining out - Ladue News: Food & Dining

Giovanni's on the Hill: Dining out

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Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 3:15 pm

Giovanni’s on The Hill has been a bastion of elegance and class since the mid-1970s. Named after founder and chef Giovanni Gabriele, the kitchen is now run by his son, executive chef Frank Gabriele, though we’re told Chef Giovanni still has more than a hand in the operation! The restaurant has served celebrities and heads of state, as well as scores of notable local personalities. And the menu features dishes named after famous fans like Oprah Winfrey and President George H. W. Bush.

The dining experience at Giovanni’s harkens back to a time when dining out was an event. From the moment we entered through the canopied doorway, we were greeted by tuxedoed wait staff who attended to our every need with understated attention—always ready to serve but never overbearing or hovering.

The warm Italian bread we got to start was a delicious harbinger of the meal to come. With just a bit of olive oil, it truly was a fine appetizer in and of itself, but we felt obliged to indulge in some of the selections of antipasti, as well! We chose Prosciutto di Parma e Mozzerella Fresca ($10), strips of prosciutto with a slice of mozzerella in the middle of the plate and served with bruschetta. A simple and delectable appetizer that left us poised to enjoy our main courses.

In 1981, the elder Gabriele created a pasta dish for then-president Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Thirty years later, that dish, Farfalline del Presidente Reagan ($20), is still on the menu. With that sort of longevity, we just had to sample it to see what has kept it a Giovanni’s mainstay for three decades. The dish featured copious amounts of bow-tie pasta dusted with delicate salmon flakes, immersed in a thick cream sauce. The simplicity of this dish—and the perfect preparation—left us no doubt as to why it remains a bestseller.

Normally we don’t stray off the menu much, but when we heard there was an Osso Buco ($28) special, we had to break our rule just this once to indulge in this classic Italian entree. We were served a hefty veal shank, braised until it almost fell off the bone on the plate in front of us, with just a bit of cheese judiciously melted over the top. The meat was served with a mound of tender risotto with mushrooms in a mild tomato sauce that proved to be a tasty complement.

After such a hearty meal, we decided to lighten up a bit with an order of the Spumone Gelato ($7), a dish of petite scoops of chocolate, pistachio and cherry Italian ice cream, lightly sprinkled with nuts. Like the rest of our meal, it was simple, honest and delicious.

We also found the wine list at Giovanni’s to be both impressive and extensive, and the expert bar staff had no problem fielding our decidedly old-school cocktail requests with ease.

While Giovanni’s has a sophisticated ambiance, its food is eminently approachable. This combination of high-end atmosphere and accessible cuisine makes Giovanni’s the perfect culinary destination for special occasions of all types.

FARFALINI AL SALMONE

2 CUPS OF 40% CREAM

3OZ. LIGHTLY SALTED BUTTER

2 TBL SPOON GRATED PARMIGIANA REGIANO

1 OZ. CHOPPED SMOKE SALMON CRACKED BLACK PEPPER

1 LB. DE CECCO BOWTIE NOODLE

COOK PASTA 5-7 MINUTES IN LIGHTLY SALTED WATER SAUTE BUTTER IN SKILLET WITH SMOKE SALMON WHEN SALMON BEGINS TO BROWN ADD CREAM AND PASTA. REDUCE 50% ADD PARMIGIANO AND BLACK PEPPER SERVES 4

OSSOBUCO MILANESE

(4) 2 1/2 INCH VEAL OSSOBUCO

2 MED CARROT

2 INDIVIDUAL CELLERY

1 YELLOW ONION

2 CUP DRY WHITE WINE

4 CUP VEAL STOCK

2 CUP MARINARA (BASIC TOMATO SAUCE)

2 BAY LEAF

SEASON OSSOBUCO WITH SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. LIGHTLY FLOUR AND PLACE IN HOT SKILLET WITH OLIVE OIL. BROWN OSSOBUCO ON BOTH SIDES AND REMOVE. FOR SAUCE CHOP VEGETABLE IN 1/4 INCH CUBES ADD TO SKILLET WITH 2 TBL SPOON OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL SAUTE ON MED HEAT FOR 2MIN STIR OFTEN ADD WHITE WINE, VEAL STOCK, MARINARA ADD OSSOBUCO TO SAUCE AND PLACE IN 500* OVEN FOR 2 1/2 HOURS. REMOVE AND SERVE

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