The charming ambiance and elegant interior of Giovanni’s are like none other in Ottawa. When you drive through Ottawa’s Little Italy, one’s eye is naturally drawn to this unmistakable and towering corner building. With its elegant black window awnings, the building has stood as a landmark of the neighbourhood for almost four decades.
Giovanni’s opened in 1983, when founder Lisa Cocco Pollastrini and her late husband Giuseppe Pollastrini moved to Canada from their native Italian regions of Pescara and Tuscany. Lisa had a dream to bring the flavours and recipes from their homelands to the Ottawa area, with an uncompromising commitment to quality and creativity that Giovanni’s still exhibits to this day.
Photography by Sean Sisk
Now run by second-generation owner Nino Cocco Pollastrini, with the help of his two children Nino and Lisa (pictured at right and left), Giovanni’s is Ottawa’s most prominent fine-dining restaurant that has welcomed hundreds of celebrities, professional athletes, and business owners from around the world during their time in The Capital. It remains a bustling spot for business lunches, dinners, and gatherings, with a robust selection of fresh seafood, meats, pasta, wine, and authentic Italian desserts.
It isn’t just the food or incomparable dining experience that has made Giovanni’s the destination it is today. Owner Nino Cocco knows first-hand that the key to building a successful business lies in its people.“My favourite part of my work is making people happy.” Says the restaurateur. “Customer service is the most important aspect of running a restaurant. You must aim for quality and consistency.”
Giovannis’ best asset has been, and always will be, the way it brings people together, says Nino. Service is what lies at the heart of an incredible dining experience. As for his best menu recommendation? A rack of lamb with a Super Tuscan wine.