A True Italian Experience in the Mother City: Giovanni’s Deli World & Expresso Bar

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Green Point’s Main Road has a few hidden gems as far as restaurants and cafes go (with these delightful, little places offering pretty spectacular views given that they overlook the nearby Cape Town Stadium and V & A Waterfront precinct just beyond) but one in particular is well-known and equally well-loved by both locals and foreigners alike: Giovanni’s Deli World and Expresso Bar.

Found at 103 Main Road, Giovanni’s looks small and seemingly ‘cutesy’ from the street but don’t judge a book by its cover – small it may seem from the outside but it has a whole lot of heart (and inside, it’s bigger than you’d imagine too)!

And what’s more, your heart will probably thank you for stopping by (as will your stomach…) because the food is generally quite health-conscious and wholesome as at Giovanni’s, they offer to name but a few of the available products: fresh fish-, fruit- (limited from what I saw but available nonetheless), breads- and cheeses, as well as a variety of cold meat, stews, side-dishes and other wonderfully packaged brand name products (as in: they bear Giovanni’s name and attractive olive green labels, complete with the tri-coloured Italian flag) and other imported goods, which come in plastic containers, cans or bottles.

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Giovanni’s is the perfect blend of largely South African and Italian produce brought together in one cosy spot.

They also have a mouth-watering shelved selection of ‘old-school’ chocolates and sweets (including some my parents said they hadn’t seen anywhere in years), snacks and a few other tasty-looking goodies even found near the Expresso Bar. Also, they have some pretty exotic ice-cream and yoghurt in their fridges as far as I can recall… so be sure to check those out too!

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(Apparently their Italian hot chocolate – sold only in winter, though they have standard hot chocolate available year-round – is a decadent treat unlike all other hot beverages and sounds like a true must-have for our cold, rain-lashed Cape winters… I will be going back to sample that sometime this year because it was sadly unavailable at the time of my visit in early May)

They have packed meals for those in a hurry (including the likes of internationally-popular dishes such as: Spaghetti Meatballs) but if you have the time, why not sit down (there is limited seating inside and out. Many people sit along the outside rail, something I haven’t seen happen at many places but it makes for a fun and relaxed vibe) and choose something to your fancy?

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From what I can tell, there is no set menu as such (another break from the more traditional eat-out places, especially those found in the Mother City), so you can literally ‘pick and choose’ the contents of your sit-down or take-away meal, which you can order and pay for over the counter.

If, say, you want to enjoy a freshly baked panini (ever a favourite of mine) from their great bakery, with a few choice pieces picked from amongst their fine and extensive selection of both cheese wheels and cold meats – both of which are neatly and carefully labelled to ensure you know exactly what you are ordering and what your taste buds can hope to savour – then you need only order over the counter as mentioned earlier and their helpful staff will do the rest, including bring it to your table should you choose to feast there.

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There is also a friendly man selling beautiful, fresh floral bouquets at the shop entrance and a TV or two, well-situated above the main counters, which will no doubt please sports enthusiasts like myself as I imagine the most popular sport of the day will always be screened here, as there was great IPL cricket on during the time of my visit with my parents.

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But it’s the rows upon rows and goods stacked to the roof (and even right above your head) that really had me enthralled, for Giovanni’s offers an almost insanely wide range of every tasty imported good imaginable, including: boxes of biscuits, glorious olive oils, delicious-sounding dessert sauces, every type and make of pasta, as well as so much more!

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I have no doubt that it could take well over an hour to go over all the shop’s canned, tinned or packaged goods alone – and that is to say nothing of its wonderful selection of salads, refridgerated goods/meals and the like. Local residents and workers are truly spoilt for choice in Giovanni’s Deli World and I for one am truly envious of them.

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The Expresso Bar is another great draw card, with its clean wooden surfaces, (a few) framed photos and its quite extensive array of colourful national flags hung around the main till and hot beverage machines (though there is also a nearby fridge containing cold drinks and juice cartons) – not to mention the round, marble stand-alone tables that rely primarily on your perching on the outer railing – and great beverages to boot.

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The barista who served us, Mr Reg Piero, was both a pleasure to speak to and to watch as he speedily, yet efficiently prepared and served our drinks. I also believe that I spotted the presumed owner of Giovanni’s behind the beverage counter and later, eating at one of the tables nearest us, another nice aspect of this truly family-friendly and warmly-run place.

We eventually secured seats on the bar stools nearest the coffee machines, prime spots indeed, but we did initially have trouble finding a free table with enough space for three as it was bustling and busy.

Even when sitting (or standing) at the Expresso Bar, there is a distinctly Mediterranean feel that prevails over Giovanni’s, with its wholesome goods inside the deli and its thriving potted olive trees and wooden barrels outside, something that I really liked about the place as it’s the closest I’ve come at present to experiencing a true Italian eat-out and shopping experience in one – yet another boon.

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Another element that adds further weight to this feeling are the converted prices displayed here and there in Euros, something that must be a welcome sight for our foreign visitors and that I personally found to be both sensible and thoughtful.

With the lazy street-side bustle and dying golden rays of a beautiful autumn afternoon behind me, I enjoyed an excellent choccocino (R24), whilst my parents both sipped their personal favourites alongside me. My dad had the cappucino (R20) and my mum the cafe latte (R20).

These were presented in glass- or thick brown porcelain mugs, set atop a matching brown porcelain saucer in case of spillage. A small touch that I liked was that for once both my mum and I received a nice, long spoon for stirring our drinks.

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My choccocino was really tasty, with a generous sprinkling of chocolate powder on top, and as such, receives a 9/10 rating.

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My mum also gave her cafe latte a 9/10, whilst my dad gave his cappuccino a 10/10 rating.

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The prices were reasonable (though I think the cappuccino might have been a touch above the standard price) and the drinks were very good, as was the service, courtesy primarily of Mr Piero. A 9/10 overall rating is awarded to the Expresso Bar.

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So, whether you’re looking to grab a quick meal-on-the-go, purchase a pretty bouquet for a friend or loved one, mull over a warm java whilst enjoying your favourite read or indulging in the latest sports action, or you’re simply out to find some quality fresh and/or packaged goods, all of an undeniably mouth-watering nature, then Giovanni’s Deli World and Expresso Bar is certainly the place for you and what’s more, it’s well-worth a visit if only for a visual feast!

My parents and I certainly enjoyed our visit (and judging by some of the reviews I found online afterwards, we are far from alone in this respect!) and I know that this will most certainly not be the last time I pop by.

For more information, you can contact Giovanni’s telephonically on: + 27 (021) 434 6893 or come explore it for yourself at: 103 Main Road, Green Point, Cape Town.

Giovanni’s is open Monday to Sunday, from 07:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and caters for breakfast, lunch and supper needs.

You can also ‘Like’ and follow them on Facebook: http://https//www.facebook.com/pages/Giovannis/178216092205189?fref=ts.

Many thanks to Trip Advisor and Sa Venues for the additional info. used in this post.

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