Giovanni's still serving great Italian – and more
February 6, 2020 | View PDF
Giovannis Italian Eatery has been a part of the Shafter landscape for decades, and the restaurant didn't miss a beat after the change of ownership when Noy Soutchay took over the business started by Ralph and Anne Fruguglietti in 1986. Giovanni's was known for its pizza, calzones, pasta and its house-made bread with balsamic dressing.
About eight years ago, Soutchay decided that she would take a leap and try adding a few Thai dishes to the menu. Soutchay's husband's family has a Thai restaurant in Whittier, but she had no restaurant experience when she began this venture. The Thai dishes added to the popularity of the restaurant, with the draw of the Italian food and the Thai items. "I didn't really know how the Thai dishes would do, not knowing if the Shafter residents would know Thai food. But, they were a hit from the start. Shafter does know its Thai food!"
In addition to its Italian favorites like the pasta, pizza and calzones, Soutchay has the Thai dishes, and she also added seafood to the menu. "We added a ribeye steak to the menu as well," she said.
With no experience in the business, Soutchay learned how to make the original dough recipe – still made from Giovanni's original recipe -- as well as the other dishes, from her employees. "They taught me how to make some dishes and the dough. They were so helpful when I first started."
As far as the Thai dishes, she has friends in Bakersfield and other areas who have Thai restaurants, and she occasionally goes to their restaurants and learns dishes from them. That strategy has worked like a charm, with the pad Thai, curry soup and pineapple fried rice, having a large following. "The pad Thai is amazing, as well as the pineapple fried rice," said one guest, Leticia Marquez, who loves the Thai dishes.
According to Souchay, there are no clear-cut favorites when it comes to sales. "It really depends what kind of crowd it is. We have locals who have dinner, or workers who come in for lunch, and some people who come from Bakersfield or other areas for both the Italian food and the Thai food."
In addition to the Italian and Thai dishes, the restaurant offers a variety of beers and wines on the menu, and desserts include carrot cake, tiramisu and chocolate cake.
Soutchay said that it has been a great experience, and she loves the Shafter community. "I was tired of working in the labs, and my husband and I looked from Fresno to Valencia looking for a place to open. I have always loved Italian food and have been interested in the food business."
She says likes the small-town feel of Shafter, along with its sense of community. "It is so quiet ,and we have such great support from the community. Everybody looks to help everybody and [they] are so friendly."
TAL]Giovanni's Italian Eatery is open Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays and major holidays. The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for dinner, Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, they are open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for dinner.