BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Chef Michael Metzner has made quite the name for himself and Giovanni's Bistro since opening last March.  Their 32 seat fine dining mecca, in downtown Berkeley Heights, has been placed on the New Jersey map for fine dining. 

The NY Times review stated that the "polished cooking" of Metzner "emphasizes both freshness and variety" and the focus "rarely strays from the carefully articulated flavors and handsome, unfussy plating." 

"After the NY times review, people traveled 30 to 45 minutes, even from Manhattan, to come to Giovanni's.  That's when you know you're doing something correctly," said Metzner. 

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A recent Star Ledger review gave the service under maitre d' Michael Ferraro a "spot-on" rating -- and for Chef Metzner and Sous Chef Timothy Monday, it's confirmed, there is "big talent in the kitchen." Diners enjoy the viewing of the chefs creating in the kitchen from the glass window in the dining room. 

"As Giovanni's reputation builds, people know they will get quality when they come here,  and I'm pretty proud of that," said Metzner. "We have a really good and special unique things going here." 

The new "Early Spring Menu" began this week with 20 new dishes.   

Chef Metzner's favorite dishes include

  • Octopus,  served with chorizo Napa cabbage charred red pepper puree and grilled scallions.  
  • Halibut with braised artichokes, capers, lemon carrots, cippolini onions.
  • Stuffed Quail is stuffed with olives, raisins, pine nuts served over whited arugula, egglplant and herbal vinaigrette.

The menu will change 8 to 10 times a year, introducing half of a new menu each month. "If you have a good menu, you want to sell that.  I want to make the menu special." said Metzner.  

Giovanni's menu combines new American Cuisine with Meditrannean and Itallian influences.  The full bar has a variety of wines starting at $7 by the glass. Customers may bring their own wine with a corkage fee of $25 per bottle.   

Giovanni's Bistro also offers catering with a personalized chef service.  "We develop the menu together based on the customers needs," said Metzner. "Catering is focused on what the customer wants. We can work a whole kitchen with plated dinners to dropping off chaffing dishes for a buffet.  We tailor to the event and customer."

Reservations are recommended, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Additional outdoor seating will be open shortly and reservations will not be taken for these tables.

Visit Giovanni's website for their monthly special events.  Coming up on April 9 is a 6-Course "Welcome to Spring Dinner" highlighting the best of what the early Spring harvest has to offer for $75 per person and $35 additional for wine pairings.  Fridays during Lent, Chef Metzner has planned a 3-Course prix fixe menu for $45 per person if your reservation is from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Giovanni's Bistro is located at 449 Springfield Avenue, Berkeley Heights.  Call for reservations (908)464-6644.