OK, the conventional wisdom is that Giovannis In Berkeley has fair food at best. My favorite review of the service said it was helpful ... often, but not always.
But there must be something that has kept this place in business over a decade with better Italian all around them. Is it just the banquet facilities?
I've read that, at the least, the foccacia is fantastic.
Even in the passionately negative review of Giovanni's linked below ...
"I would not eat here for a fee.
I would not eat here if it were free.
I would not, could not stomach it again.
I could not, would not recommend it to a friend.
The texture sucks, the sauces are gross,
the only thing worth eating is toast.
Avoid Giovanni's no matter what,
to put it simply, the place just sucks!"
Even THEN, the reviewer liked the foccacia. So ... maybe if the soup is decent ... a little soup, a glass of wine, foccacia by the fireplace during happy hour might not be a bad thing.
This seems consistant across the web. People who rate the food fair, rave about the foccacia, or at least grudgingly conceede it is very good.
An old East Bay Express article ... this was 2003 mind you ... said they had a happy hours with "$2.50 beers and well drinks with a range of $3.95 antipasti and pastas."
Another place said Gnocchi, Eggplant Parmigiana, Veal Scallopini, and Chicken Marsala were the best of the menu. Someone else said the garlic bread was good.