Tag Archives: Giovanni

Berkeley’s Giovanni to reopen as Gio’s this fall

The facade of Giovanni's. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The fire that broke out at Giovanni last spring may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

In 2014, local developer Nathan George and entrepreneur Xin Jin began discussions on the sale of the restaurant with the Schipani family, the owners of Giovanni. It was a sentimental place for George, who started eating at the historic Italian restaurant with his wife shortly after moving to Berkeley.

“It was our go-to place,” he said. “When [the Schipanis] took it over [again], we became very close to them. We talked with them about their struggles with management, and we were always trying to get more people to eat there.”

Read more about the original Giovanni on Berkeleyside.

George, Xin and the Schipanis went back and forth about the sale for about a year, but finally set a date to sit down with their lawyers to sort out details on April 24, 2015. The restaurant caught on fire the morning of April 23.

The fire slowed down the paperwork, and the deal wasn’t finalized until the end of 2015. Construction started soon afterward, but what was originally intended as a basic update turned into a much bigger project.

“The whole building needed to be upgraded,” said George. “It wasn’t ever intended to be a big project, but we’re more excited about the restaurant’s prospects now. It’s going to be a much better place than if we had just retained the old space.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Maker’s Common, Salsipuedes, Giovanni, more

The future home of Maker's Common, a cheese and charcuterie restaurant and retail shop, at 1958 University Ave. Photo: Kate Williams
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Openings, closings…

MISSION CHEESE OPENING MAKER’S COMMON ON UNIVERSITY Popular Valencia Street cheese and charcuterie bar Mission Cheese made plans to open a second, larger restaurant and retail location in San Francisco about a year ago. But after struggling to find affordable space in San Francisco, founders Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller decided to search elsewhere. They’ve now signed a lease at 1958 University Ave. in downtown Berkeley. The new restaurant will be called Maker’s Common, and it will offer a small, curated retail market in addition to a sit-down restaurant. “We are incredibly excited to dig into our new East Bay surroundings, meet our neighbors, and get this train rolling,” wrote Miller on the company’s blog. The restaurant’s name is a reference to its emphasis on supporting makers — cheesemakers, winemakers, beer makers, etc. “When I think about food and what gets me excited about food, is thinking about the people and the process that has gone into bringing that food to my table,” said Dvorak in the company’s fundraising video. Funding for Maker’s Common is being secured through a $600,000 Direct Public Offering; so far Maker’s Common has raised close to half of its goal. Maker’s Common will be at 1958 University Ave. (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Bites: Rosamunde Temescal opens, Giovanni news

Rosamunde Sausage & Grill will open in Oakland's Temescal. Photo: Rosamunde
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Openings, closings…

ROSAMUNDE NOW OPEN IN TEMESCAL Rosamunde has been selling sausages and craft beer out of its location in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Marketplace for a few years now. They opened their second East Bay location in Temescal over Memorial Day weekend. This new location, in the former Good Bellie’s café at 4659 Telegraph Ave., is the fifth for the the San Francisco-based restaurant. The Temescal location has the same food menu as at its Old Oakland location, including three varieties of vegan sausages and 14 varieties of beer on tap. Rosamunde Temescal will hold an official grand opening June 11, complete with $1 beer specials and an in-house DJ. Rosamunde Sausage Grill is at 4659 Telegraph Ave. (between 46th and 47th streets), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Fire at Giovanni’s restaurant causes $100K damage

Firefighters use a ladder to access the roof of Giovanni's restaurant at 2420 Shattuck Ave. today after a fire broke out around 6 a.m. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A fire that broke out early this morning at Giovanni’s restaurant in downtown Berkeley caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage, according to Berkeley Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Avery Webb.

The fire department had to open up walls, as well as the roof of the building at 2420 Shattuck Ave., as the fire was concentrated in concealed spaces, Webb said.

The southbound section of Shattuck Avenue between Channing and Haste was closed for about one and a half hours while the first-alarm fire was being tackled. … Continue reading »

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Family rallies to save Berkeley restaurant Giovanni

Giovanni's, the oldest restaurant on Shattuck Avenue, may have to close at the end of the month because of taxes owed to the IRS. The poster announcing a new movie inadvertently telegraphs the restaurant's situation. Photo: Ten Friedman
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By Ted Friedman

Giovanni Schipani, 81, has been fighting the past two years to save the restaurant he launched in 1962. Now, according to Anna Schipani, 63, the bookkeeper at Giovanni, “we could be boarded-up at the end of the month if we don’t pay back taxes to IRS.”

Giovanni, at 2420 Shattuck Ave., is “probably” the oldest restaurant on Shattuck, according to Steve Finacom, vice president of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Schipani, known as Johnny to friends, had been wildly successful in Berkeley’s flourishing south side restaurant scene, earning enough money from his first restaurant, Mr. Pizza, to buy a muffler shop and convert it to an upscale Italian family restaurant seating 200. … Continue reading »

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Giovanni’s last stand: Family rallies to save restaurant

Giovanni's, the oldest restaurant on Shattuck Avenue, may have to close at the end of the month because of taxes owed to the IRS. The poster announcing a new movie inadvertently telegraphs the restaurant's situation. Photo: Ten Friedman
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By Ted Friedman

Giovanni Schipani, 81, has been fighting the past two years to save the restaurant he launched in 1961. Now, according to Anna Schipani, 63, the bookkeeper at Giovanni, “we could be boarded-up at the end of the month if we don’t pay back taxes to IRS.”

Giovanni, at 2420 Shattuck Ave., is “probably” the oldest restaurant on Shattuck, according to Steve Finacom, vice president of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Schipani, known as Johnny to friends, had been wildly successful in Berkeley’s flourishing south side restaurant scene, earning enough money from his first restaurant, Mr. Pizza, to buy a muffler shop and convert it to an upscale Italian family restaurant seating 200. … Continue reading »

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Tonight: Jazz for 50 years of Berkeley eatery Giovanni

Giovanni’s daughter, Anastasia serving long time regular, Julio Jefferson. Photo: Giovanni
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John Schott doesn’t make a habit of approaching neighborhood eateries for gigs. But the capaciously creative Berkeley guitarist couldn’t resist reaching out to the owners of Giovanni, one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in town, when he stopped by for dinner with his family one night and heard Miles Davis playing on the house sound system. A Berkeley resident since 1988, Schott had eaten at the restaurant before, but that was when it wasn’t owned by the original Schipani family.

“I live around the corner and last year I walked by and saw them remodeling,” says Schott, who performs at Giovanni tonight with bassist John Wiitala and drummer John Hanes. “I struck up a conversation with one of the Schipani daughters and heard they had repurchased it. It’s a huge place with a great feel that reminds me of Italian restaurants I went to as a kid.” … Continue reading »

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Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us

Cheeseboard Pizza straight from the oven. All photos: Christina Diaz
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Today this space is all about cheese. And crust. And toppings.

Got opinions about who turns out the best pizza in town? We know you do. So here’s your chance to share your pie picks with fellow readers.

That’s right folks, today, the Friday food column takes a break from regularly scheduled programming to poll readers about their pizza preferences. (The first in an occasional series where residents weigh in on their favorite foods found close to home.)

We know that for every die-hard devotee of Cheese Board pizza there’s an equally loyal Gioia fan to be found.

There’s pizza for all palates and pocketbooks here, whether you favor California-style, wood-fired pies pioneered by the  Chez Panisse crew (foraged greens and artisan goat cheese, anyone?), Brooklyn-inspired bites with trademark thin crusts and judicious use of ingredients, or the sloppy cheese slices popular among the campus crowd. … Continue reading »

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