The new Gianna’s Pizzarant in Plantation is the type of family-run Italian restaurant we’d all welcome in our neighborhood. It’s run by the brother-sister team of Giuseppe Ribaudo and Francesca Hixson, who grew up in the business. Their father, Bartolo Ribaudo, owns the nearby Pizza Center, long a popular destination in West Broward.
Fans of Pizza Center will recognize the same delicious, puffy-crusted, New York-style pies at Gianna’s, which is named for Giuseppe’s 5-year-old daughter. Gianna’s also features an extensive list of appetizers, entrees and pasta, but its menu is a bit more diverse than Pizza Center’s, adding burgers, wings and panini-like Grillerz on house-made focaccia.
Gianna’s makes just about everything in-house — soups, sauces (including pesto) and most salad dressings (including the Caesar, with anchovies). That’s one of the reasons the small storefront stands out. Gianna’s opened briefly in the summer, and then closed for renovation. The 36-seat restaurant reopened just before Christmas, and on both of our recent stops, our orders were ready promptly.
My family likes the simple mushroom pizza, but Gianna’s offers more elaborate pies like the Buffalo chicken, Greek (with artichoke hearts) and the Francesco (named for Giuseppe’s 7-year-old son), which is loaded with salami, pepperoni, sausage and bacon. We’re also fans of the entrees, which come with soup (lentil, pasta e fagioli or minestrone), salad, ultra-buttery garlic rolls and spaghetti.
The shrimp parmigiana was delicious, with several plump breaded shrimp. Chicken marsala was a hit, with lots of fresh mushrooms and a delicate wine sauce. The eggplant rollatini was so filling, with layers of breaded eggplant, ricotta and zesty sauce smothered in mozzarella, that we saved half for later.
Gianna’s also offers a long list of classic pasta dishes like tortellini, manicotti and lasagna plus plenty of choices for kids. We’ll have to come back for their cannolis or tiramisu, and one item this Philadelphia native must try — the Philly cheese steak Grillerz.