It's like stumbling into a little Italian deli in Elizabeth, N.J., except for the racks of Utz potato chips. What with the wood paneling, quirky decor, the rack of Cento olives, and a deli case full of fresh salads--including a tempting plate of deviled eggs crowned with green olive slices--Giovanna's is the sort of mom-and-pop carry-out more common to the Garden than Free State, where Mom and Pop would actually be from Italy.
And they are--the Abruzza region, to be precise. Owner Val Grampa, who's owned Giovanna's for about 10 years, sat and chatted as I wolfed down my Italian cold cut sub ($4.15) and my friend his sausage sub ($4.50). The sandwiches were nothing fancy--no rosemary focaccia here--but damn tasty. Quality meats, fresh onions and peppers, and tangy tomato sauce, all on that cut-above-food-service bread local restaurants ship from somewhere up I-95. While the friendly Grampa bent our ears, we ate a few slices from a 10-inch cheese pizza ($4.50) with an excellent flaky crust. We opted out of a slice or two of hefty Sicilian style pie. We were too stuffed. Nothing pretentious, nothing "gourmet"--Giovanna's is right on.