Giovanni’s is a small Italian restaurant in the busy Cardiff city centre.

It is surrounded by the impressive library and a handful of designer shops, with a feel of “little Italy” about it. A trattoria style restaurant in the heart of a busy capital city.

"Little Italy" (courtesy of

We walked into the restaurant and, as it was busy, awkwardly waited to be seated. The seating was very informal and open, with a family orientated atmosphere; a central theme of Italian dining.

I ordered the Risotto Modo Nostra, which I felt I could judge with some degree of authority as it is virtually the only meal I can cook to an edible standard.

It consisted of peppers, smoked bacon and moderately spicy sauce. The risotto was cooked well and had a creamy taste to it, preferred by many chefs including Jamie Oliver. It was also a good-sized portion.

My two guests both ordered pizza, which I was skeptical of, but they rightly pointed out that an authentic Italian restaurant should make exceptional pizzas. However, they were divided over their selections.

The restaurant has a very local Italian feel to it. The restaurant manager, Massimo Fraioli, explained to me how he was trying to, and indeed succeeding to, export classic Italian cuisine from Sorrento on the Naples coast, where Massimo is from and bring it to Cardiff.

Much of the menu does, rightly, consist of seafood dishes and pasta; common to that area of Italy.

The restaurant was established in 1983 and has hosted a number of celebrities. Tom Jones, George Best, Enrique Iglesias, Anthony Hopkins and Pavarotti have all dined there.

The late Pavarotti at the restaurant (courtesy of Giovanni's)

Unlike many restaurants that claim authenticity, Giovanni’s has weighted credibility. They have cheesy Italian music simmering in the background, there is a communal atmosphere, the service is very efficient and well rehearsed, but more to the point, they genuinely seem passionate about the food they serve you.

The experience was complete when, as we were leaving, the waiter cheerfully exclaimed: Ciao!



Money Spent: £10.95

Rating: 8/10