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New Italian restaurant is open Christmas Day

By Miriam Raftery

December 21, 2017 (Lemon Grove) –Marco Provino, originally from Palermo in Sicily, worked as a chef in San Diego’s Gaslamp District at Panavino’s on Fifth before falling in love with manager Karina Karvalis. The couple married, moved to Lemon Grove and opened up Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina, a delightfully authentic Italian restaurant with creative, upscale options at affordable pricing.

My husband and I started our meal with a organic red wine from Sicily, Nero D’Avolo, ahd a Chianti from Tuscany.  These paired nicely with our appetizers: stuffed mushrooms laden with crab meat in a white wine sauce with onions,peppers, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese as well as meatball lollipops of tender veal, beef, and pork served in  spicy Pomodoro tomato sauce.

For my entrée, I chose the pistachio-crusted salmon with spinach risotto and a mustard chardonnay cream sauce, which was very satisfying and served in a generous portion.  My husband savored the cioppino:  a lobster-tomato broth chockfull with musels, clams, fish, calamari and succulent baby shrimp.

The desserts can best be described as heavenly.  My favorite was the lemon cheesecake with lackberries, though the chocolate lava cake was richly satisfying and the cannoli, a Sicilian specialty, was creamy perfection in a crisp shell.

White brick walls, wood tables and chairs, soft pendant light fixtures and a glass wall at the rear where you can watch the chef at work provide a cozy ambience. There’s also a bar area serving up Italian beers on tap among other things, plus a long table for larger groups.

Don’t let the modest exterior fool you – inside, a delightful experience awaits you with top-notch cuisine and excellent service.

As an added treat, Giardino’s will be open on Christmas Day.  “Our family is coming here from Sicily,” says Provino, who will be serving up a three-course menu for $35 including such options as Pear Salad, Lobster Ravioli, Veal Parmigiana and a slice of house panettone.  You can also order off the regular menu. 

The regular menu  includes an array of pastas, wood-fired pizzas, salads and entrees including steak, pork, chicken, veal and seafood dishses as well as vegetarian options such as eggplant Parmesan and Truffle Risotto. 

Gardino’s is located at 8131 Broadway in Lemon Grove. For reservations, email or call (619) 825-7112.

To view the full menu and learn more, visit

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