Don't show up expecting Giovanni's ambiance or Rocco Whalen's cuisine; these are students, after all. But each course includes a choice of one of two options, and they all sound pretty tempting. On a recent Saturday, alternatives included shrimp-stuffed crêpes or blue-cheese crostini; barley-lentil or Tuscan chicken soup; mesclun greens or crisp romaine with shaved fennel, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts; roasted pork tenderloin with vanilla-bourbon jus or pappardelle with smoked salmon; and apple galette or warm chocolate cake, both served with homemade ice cream. Water, tea, and coffee are included, as well as stemware for BYOB'ers.
Guests are invited to play critic: A report form and guidelines await at each seat, encouraging feedback on all aspects of the meal. Instructors and students then use the reports to improve their performance. Seatings are at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; reservations are required and can be made by calling 440-729-1110. ICASI is at 8700 Mayfield Road.
Ciao Italia . . . Nick and Giovanna Kustala, owners of Willoughby's Lure Bistro, finally closed the doors of their West Side restaurant, Giovanna's, on January 14. "It broke our hearts," says Patrick Brown, Giovanna's former manager; but after nearly two years, the Kustalas still hadn't been able to secure a liquor license -- a key source of profits for many eateries. Brown says the concept -- jazzy renditions of popular Italian comfort food, served in an artfully laid-back setting -- is still sound, and the search is on for a possible Concord location.
In its failure, Giovanna's follows in the footsteps of two other worthy restaurants that occupied the Clifton Boulevard space: Donna Chriszt's Jeso and Jeff Uniatowski's Mise.
Greek tragedy . . . We're gonna miss those plump, savory gyros, now that Independence's Fournos Café has shut down. According to a nearby business operator, the lunch-and-dinner spot had been struggling since summer and closed abruptly on December 31.