The Showcase Magazine - Salutes

By Erik Slagle

After a successful experience in a cozy restaurant setting, Giovanni’s Bistro is growing.

By early September, this exciting dining spot will increase in size with more seating and a larger bar.

The first thing you notice when you enter Giovanni’s Bistro Bar and Catering on Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights might just be the décor. Linens in soft, easy shades of lavender tell you this isn’t just another “white tablecloth” dining experience. There’s something different about Giovanni’s – casual yet elegant, upscale yet welcoming, with a husband-and-wife ownership team who built the bistro as a passion project of sorts after fulfilling careers in other fields. At Giovanni’s, the name of the game is customer service and guest satisfaction – which only makes the outstanding food taste that much better!

Proprietors Nadine and Bob Tokash opened Giovanni’s – named for their grandson, John – a little over five years ago, after Nadine enjoyed a rewarding, 40-year career as a school speech pathologist in the Berkeley Heights school district, and Bob completed three decades with the Pitney Bowes Corporation. After a fair amount of anticipation with town approval, they were able to open the doors to more than a restaurant – they were starting the next chapter of their lives. They were delighted to have the Berkeley Heights community to share it with.

“We are thrilled to see how Giovanni’s has become a favorite spot, where guests frequent our restaurant many times during the week. We have styled Giovanni’s to be the perfect choice for dinner for two, or a venue for your next large party.”

Since that opening, Giovanni’s has netted countless rave reviews both online and in print – the New York Times even rated them “Excellent” not long after their opening! You’ll find consistent four and five-star ratings on sites like Trip Advisor, OpenTable, Yelp, and Facebook. It starts in the kitchen – where guests can watch meal preparation through a large glass window. There they’ll find Executive Chef George Calvo leading a team in creation of culinary masterpieces made fresh daily from “farm to table” produce, organic poultry and prime beef, and prime seafood. Chef George has put Giovanni’s “on the map,” so to speak, with a wide-ranging selection of New American dishes blending fine Italian and Mediterranean influences.

As chef George stated, “Our team demonstrates a flare to excite your taste buds.” George is a gentle, caring chef who has combined the art of cooking with the beauty of styling and plating his creations.

Menu highlights include openers such as an escarole, bean and sausage cassoulet; avocado, watermelon and blackberry salad; or shrimp tempura. Pasta selections such as Pappardelle Giovanni’s, braised beef ravioli, and lobster ravioli are popular with diners, and as “main events” the halibut, Filet Mignon D’Artagnan, Berkshire pork chop schnitzel in a Chardonnay white balsamic reduction, scrumptious eggplant parmesan, and cast iron-seared half-chicken will leave you wanting more. Which is a great thing, because with a dessert lineup including New York-style cheesecake, a limoncello mascarpone cake, cannolis, tartufo and a rum-infused tiramisu, you’ll want to make sure you’ve saved room for something sweet!

General Manager, Greg Gibbs, is an engaging, jovial host with a huge desire to please. He has built a premier selection of wines and spirits highlighted by exquisite martinis. Gibbs brings to Giovanni’s a background as an advanced sommelier. Greg is happy to recommend a glass or bottle for any occasion, to pair with most anything on the menu.

Giovanni’s, at 449 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights, is open Sunday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Visit or call (908) 464-6644 for reservations – particularly on weekends – and experience a friendly, casual atmosphere paired with remarkable food in a setting unlike anything you’ve tried before. It’s time to experience Giovanni’s. Nadine and Bob Tokash look forward to sharing their love of great food, fun and camaraderie with you!