In the language of Italian, translated to English, Cavaliere is a name that has its’ roots in knights, horsemen, and equestrian cavalrymen. Which is fitting for the Cavaliere family name found in Sault Ste. Marie, as it relates to Giovannis, Fratellis and Gigi’s restaurant(s). The story of John & Gino Cavaliere have route markers that included a brave ‘ride’ or journey, to Canada from Italy.
Fortunately for the community of Sault Ste. Marie, the two brothers, found their way here, and eventually opened Giovanni’s restaurant in the same location it has been, since 1978. 516 Great Northern Road.
Giovanni’s is a landmark in the Algoma District. Residents of the Sault, and countless travellers to the community, have embraced the authentic energy that this family owned business brings to everything it offers. As Giovanni’s Restaurant moved forward from 1978, it grew and was renovated on two separate occasions. From 60 people approximate seating in the early years, to what is now room for 240 people, Giovanni’s is a destination, as much as it is a restaurant.
The ambiance is inviting. The Venezia Room, with its’ infused stained glass inspired lighting and decor, seats 40 and is a special space for intimate gatherings. The fireside area provides the perfect location to unwind on a chilly evening, and enjoy some of the wines from a substantial list numbering over 30.
Giovanni’s offers weekly features where food and wine are paired with regions and geography in Italy. Tuscany and Sicily are some of the places a person can travel to through food and wine in the atmosphere that is Giovanni’s.
As young people, there was always a role to play in the business. “We started the summer after grade 8” shared Nick Cavaliere, reflecting on the history that he and his brother Serge have with Giovanni’s. “We were either dishwashing or working in the kitchen.”
“I enjoy the front of the house” said Nick “And Serge is passionate about the kitchen.”
Serge reflected that they (as brothers) work well together, and each bring strengths to the business partnership. “We have developed relationships with our customers who are considered family to us. Our circle of friends are here.”
With three separate restaurants, each with a unique menu and intentional design, the Cavaliere brothers have days that are ‘on the move.’ Not in the same way as the Cavaliere’s of the past, riding as knights on a trusty steed, but a good horse would probably be helpful. “We each know all aspects of the business to ensure that the whole operation runs smoothly. We build on each others’ strengths.”
In 2012, Cavaliere family gatherings began to include discussions about Serge and Nick taking over the business. “Our parents, and uncle, have built a legacy. They have developed a reputation (for the restaurants) and this is something that we can now do for our family. We want our parents, and our uncle to be able to enjoy this time in their lives. To travel and relax. It is time for them to now reap the benefits of all that they have done.”
The official transition came in December 2014. Maxine Cavaliere supports and manages much of the daily operation for Giovanni’s with Serge, while Nick is focused more on Fratelli’s and Gigi’s.
In 2002, Fratelli’s opened. The whole building was moved from the former location near the current entrance of Walmart at Great Northern Rd. “At one time, the building housed a bakery called ‘The Bakers Dozen’. The whole building was picked up and floated to the vacant land beside Giovanni’s. We had the opportunity to buy the restaurant in 2004. In 2007, Gigi’s Bistro & Pizzeria opened at 7 Great Northern Rd.” Both Fratelli’s and Gigi’s Bistro have menus that reflect casual dining with distinct menus, wine & beverage lists.
All three restaurants are known far and wide for their amazing food. They are also part of the economic engine of this community. Giovanni’s employs around 40 people, Fratelli’s, 20 and Gigi’s Bistro, 10. Taking into consideration all of the extras with catering as well as special events including weddings, birthdays, confirmations, anniversaries, baptisms, communions, and more, these three unique spaces for people to come together provide much more than bricks and mortar.
In Italian culture, food and family is everything. It was in Bra, Italy where the ‘slow food’ movement was first founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Food isn’t something that is just consumed. It is meant to be a source of joy and connection to culture, to family, and to history. Any and all of these can be found at Giovanni’s, Fratelli’s, and Gigi’s Bistro.
“They will still be coming around.” shared Serge and Nick. “What our uncle and father have done is remarkable. We will honour and try to emulate the legacy that they have entrusted to us. Our vision will continue to be built on the strength of what they started in 1978.”
Molto buona cucina. Un brindisi alla famiglia. Dalla nostra famiglia alla vostra. mangiare, bere, ed essere felici. Saluti.
For more information about Giovanni’s, Fratelli’s and Gigi’s visit giovannisrestaurant.ca