Barbecued Pork Ribs at Giovanni's Pizza & Pasta, a Review

giovannis menifeeSticky, gooey, saucy fingers is hardly the idea that most people get when they think of an Italian restaurant, yet Tom Powers takes great pride in his barbecued pork ribs.

Powers, the owner of Giovanni's Pizza and Pasta in Menifee, had been raving so much about the sweet, bold flavor of his ribs, that we had to stop by and give them a try.

"We cook them right here on the premises for four to five hours", says the former bakery manager and marketing associate. "They roast in our ovens in a covered pan, that's what makes them so tender and juicy. After that, we slather them with barbecue sauce and then run them through our pizza oven to give them a shiny glaze."

Available for both lunch and dinner, they come as a half rack or full rack, accompanied with a choice of two sides, french fries, sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes, or switch them out for the soup and salad bar.

"People tell me that they can't believe how much flavor these ribs have", says Powers. "I've had them tell me they prefer these ribs over their Moms'.

As for what kind of ribs he serves up, they're pork loin ribs. "Pork loin ribs have a little bit more meat on them than baby backs", he goes on to explain.

And sure enough, that's what we noticed the most, big chunks of tender, moist meat.

Powers continued, "And our full rack has thirteen bones, while most other places only give you nine or ten. Our half rack has six bones, when other places give you only four."

barbecued pork ribs
But what I noticed right away was how soft and moist the meat was. Powers guaranteed "fork off the bone", but these were "fall off the bone". Just pulling a bone from the rack caused much of the meat to slide right off. No fork and knife needed with these babies, just a couple of fingers and a well coordinated set of tongue and teeth could clean these bones off as well as a starving colony of army ants.

And the sauce? Mostly sweet and tangy, not overly spicy but quite mild, yet adding enough decadence to make Lady Gaga want to smear it all over her meat dress. Giovanni's also offers sauce options of "Sweet Chili" or "Honey Garlic", if you want something that will pry your eyes open a little wider.

For the side dishes, I ordered garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. But Powers wanted me to try his new broccolini. It's not broccoli, but a cross between broccoli and kale, where the stalk is more thin, and the florets more small. Giovanni's steams it half-way where it's soft enough to chew, but still having a little crunch. I found it more flavorful than regular broccoli.

As for those garlic mashed potatoes, they're real mashed red potatoes, very creamy, slightly chunky, with the skin still on, and with only a light taste of garlic.

But why barbecued pork ribs at an Italian restaurant?

"The reason we brought in the ribs, steak, and salmon, because we're a family restaurant", says Powers. "It used to be if Mom wanted Italian, and Dad wanted ribs, they're going to Chili's. We want the whole family to come here."

Giovanni's Restaurant has been in Menifee since 1991. Powers bought it in February 2007. "When we took over, we removed the sugar from the sauces, relying on crushed pear tomatoes to provide that right bit of sweetness. We also introduced 90% lean ground sirloin for our meat sauce, before it was just 50% lean ground beef."

What many customers don't know is that Giovanni's offers all of its pasta dishes and sauces as gluten-free by request. Powers' wife Caroline has Celiac's disease, making her gluten-intolerant. "We're looking to make as many of our dishes gluten-free as possible." he notes. "We're also adding a couple of gluten-free salad dressings."

Giovanni's Pizza and Pasta
26900 Newport Road, #12
Menifee, CA 92584

Phone: (888) 904-3180
Phone: (951) 672-8080

Open 7 Days - 11:00am to 9:00pm

Dana Frank Garrett Now Playing at The Beer Hunter

dana frank garrettKnown by many as "Kid Tater", Dana Frank Garrett has covered the San Diego music scene like sour cream and chives on a steaming hot russett.

Having played in numerous venues and clubs around Southern California, covering everything from rock to jazz to hip hop, there's nothing that he and his saxophone can't cover.

"I'm here to get the night life going" the Tater says of his recent gig at The Beer Hunter. "Previously there was a more soft sound here. I'm here to help this place transition from a sports bar to a sports bar night club."

And Garrett definitely delivers. Covering everything from James Brown to Van Morrison to the Black Eyed Peas, he rips off solos on saxophone inspired by boyhood idols like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Paul Desmond and Lenny Picket. His tall, thin build looms large with his shiny brass sax, as he walks up and down the Beer Hunter bar ripping off notes from today's latest chart toppers.

His musical roots goes back to his days in Irwindale, when he picked up a saxophone for the first time at age 10. But it was up in Fairbanks, Alaska, in high school, that he refined his art enough to win numerous awards and accolades, including the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and the John Phillip Sousa Band Award.

Garrett will be playing at The Beer Hunter from 9:00pm to 12:30am Friday & Saturday evenings.

The Beer Hunter
30080 Haun Rd
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 301-4700

Beer Pairing Dinner with Stone Brewing at The Beer Hunter in Menifee

The beer pairing dinner at The Beer Hunter in Menifee for Monday, March 7, 2011 welcomes Stone Brewery, pairing together an exclusive three course dinner with three beers...

stone brewing beer pairing dinner

Call The Beer Hunter in Menifee to make reservations.

Enjoy a Beer Pairing Dinner at The Beer Hunter

Wine pairing dinners have long been popular across the country, allowing diners to learn the subtleties of different varietals and how they pair well with different foods, while still providing a fun evening with a friend or spouse.

Beer pairing dinners are a similar phenomenon that grew from the recent interest in craft beer. Southern California has become a hot bed of craft breweries thanks in part to laws and regulations in the Golden State that allow them to flourish, and San Diego County has evolved into the premier destination for craft beer lovers.

Last month, The Beer Hunter in Menifee launched its inaugural beer pairing dinner in conjunction with Samuel Adams, matching up three popular Samuel Adams beers with an exclusive three-course meal prepared by the chefs at The Beer Hunter.

At $19.99 per person, diners got to enjoy three Samuel Adams beers, an appetizer, a 10oz top sirloin steak dinner, and a dessert, along with butter and rolls.

A sold-out event of 25 guests listened to George Paulicivic, District Manager for Samuel Adams, explain the nuances of each beer and why they work so well for the dishes they were paired with.

Shrimp Scampi Ravioli with Crustini, paired with Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat

"Seafood goes really well with our Coastal Wheat", Paulicivic explained. "People like to squeeze lemon on shrimp and fish, and we find that our Coastal Wheat compliments citrus so well".

10oz Top Sirloin with Port Wine Reduction, paired with Samuel Adams Boston Lager

"Our classic Boston Lager has just enough of the malt flavor to compliment the natural flavors of beef, while having a hoppy, light bitter finish that cleanses the palate and prepares you for the next bite."

South of the Border Sundae paired with Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

"This decadent dessert from Beer Hunter goes really well with our Cherry Wheat. The Cherry Wheat has a light cherry flavor that adds a nice fruity overtone to the vanilla ice cream and compliments the honey topping and the cinnamon sprinkling on the fried tortilla strips."

And guests didn't go empty-handed, each receiving free Samuel Adams beer glasses, bottle top openers, and a beer variety chart explaining the differences of each beer type.

Up Next: The Beer Hunter has a second beer pairing dinner scheduled for Monday, March 7, 2011, 6:30pm to 8:30pm, this time with Stone Brewing, pairing their Levitation Ale with a Biscuit Salad, Pale Ale with a Mediterranean Chicken, and Smoked Porter with Mocha Brownies.

Cost is $19.99 per person. Reservations required.

Call The Beer Hunter at (951) 301-4700.

The Beer Hunter
(located inside Countryside Marketplace)
30080 Haun Rd
Menifee, CA 92584

The Beer Hunter: A Three Perspective Review

by Steve Johnson @ 02/10/2011 11:21 AM

the beer hunter menifeeThe Beer Hunter opened its doors on June 16, 2010 with great anticipation from residents starved for more dining choices in Menifee. And in its first couple weeks of opening, crowds of hungry diners stuffed its 128 indoor seats and 32 patio seats eager to sink their teeth into juicy burgers and steaks, enjoy ice cold beer, and watch sports across 32 wide-screen televisions.

And while much of that went well, The Beer Hunter experienced some problems during those opening weeks.

"We don't feel we were prepared as we would like to be" says Dan Held, manager of The Beer Hunter. "Our servers are great, our chefs are great, but it was a logistical problem in getting the two coordinated."

The result was some unhappy customers not getting their orders delivered in a timely manner. "But we made a lot of changes since then and got it all ironed out" Held explains. "We'd like to invite those people back to give us another chance."

Now having been opened for eight months, The Beer Hunter looks to broaden its appeal to more than just the sports crowd. Held wants to bring in more college students from MSJC, wants to make a destination for business lunches, and host social gatherings for women.

So a few of us writers at Menifee 24/7 took time out to do a review based on three unique perspectives, the college perspective, the ladies lunch perspective, and the guy's sports viewing perspective...

Beer Hunter Anyone?

by Julianne Lanz (college perspective)

pastrami sandwich
The Pastrami Sandwich
Do not let the name fool you! The Beer Hunter is not just a sports bar; it is a full blown restaurant. The entire staff is warm and friendly, and it seems that all of them have wonderful personalities. Customers are welcome to enjoy their meals, even if you hang around and mingle for 3 hours! Students are invited to dine and utilize the free Wi-Fi, and you don’t have to be over 21 to enjoy a meal there.

The best part about the Beer Hunter is that they cater not only to the “Over 21” crowd, but even to those of us who have yet to reach drinking age.

I recently walked into The Beer Hunter for the first time to have lunch with a friend. I thought that customers had to be over 21 to eat there; imagine how silly I felt when I realized that I was mistaken. It took me forever to figure out what I wanted on the menu; there were just so many delicious options that I wanted them all! Wow, were we surprised when our meals arrived to the table, and the portions of food were huge. You really are getting your money's worth here! This brings me to my second favorite reason to visit them again.

Date night, date night, date night! With the massive food portions, you and that special someone could split anything on the menu, have an intimate meal, and save yourself a little coin! As a college student, I know that saving money is what we are all about. We need the money for books and other supplies, as well as bills, so we tend to eat food wherever there is a dollar menu. And you could barely call that food.

I've been to The Beer Hunter time and time again, and every time I am pleasantly surprised. Every week there are new specials on food, beer and dessert too! Their Big Mac Brownie is my favorite dessert; I highly recommended it for the chocolate lovers! I can’t think of a better place to do a little homework, enjoy a real meal, and treat myself to something sweet by sharing a Big Mac Brownie with my boyfriend! Beer Hunter – here we come!

Ladies Like to Lunch

by Tina Walker (ladies perspective)

tequila lime chicken
The Tequila Lime Chicken
The kids are at school, you’ve run those errands, and now you need somewhere to rest your tired feet and recharge. Meet your girlfriends at The Beer Hunter. Don’t let the obviously male name keep you from entering the Man Cave. Ladies, this is one thing the guys got right!

The lunchtime atmosphere is deeply subdued, with the televisions quieter than the raucous evening sports bar atmosphere. Light and vibrant, the entire restaurant seems more relaxed and welcoming for a ladies lunch. Bright enough to see your food, but tranquil enough to collect your thoughts, The Beer Hunter is more than accommodating. Lunch specials abound, and since the portions are enormous, really geared for hearty appetites, most dishes are large enough to share and still be happily satisfied. The daytime staff is attentive and gracious and every nook and cranny of the restaurant is sparkling clean.

On a beautiful day, nothing beats cool drinks, delicious salads and covered patio seating to help you relax with the girls. The Tequila Lime Chicken is brightly flavored, served with vegetarian refried beans and Spanish rice, handmade tortillas, and farm-fresh pico de gallo. It is a guilt-free lunch that will leave you feeling contented. If you are in the mood for something a bit more decadent, hearty sandwiches, heaping burgers, and sumptuous pasta that is absolutely redolent of old Italy await to please you.

Once you have all thrown caution to the wind, and saved the diet for another day, dive into some dessert. The luscious Apple Crisp and delectable “Big Mac” Brownie are sure to please. According to Manager Dave, all desserts are calorie-free on Tuesday and Sunday, but somehow I think he was pulling my leg with that one.

With deep, comfortable booths that you will never want to leave and abundant table space for the gigantic spread you will be served, The Beer Hunter is Menifee’s newest “Ladies Lunch Destination!”

Beers, Burgers, and Sports

by Steve Johnson (guy's perspective)

texas bbq burger
The Texas BBQ Burger with Red Trolley Ale
When you come to The Beer Hunter, how could you not notice all the televisions? They hang from the walls and drop down from the ceilings in all of their 1080i high definition glory. Every seat in the house faces one or more televisions somewhere.

Every time I've been there, the bartenders and servers are happy to put on any game you want. The Beer Hunter subscribes to every sports package there is, if you know of a game playing, whether it's a college basketball game in Oklahoma, or a minor league hockey game in Connecticut, as long as it's on television, they'll find it.

And they have so many televisions that there's never an argument over who's get to watch what.

But I'm a beer guy. Yeah, The Beer Hunter has all of your favorite domestics and lagers (Bud, Coors, Heineken, Miller, Rolling Rock, Pacifico, etc.). Except I love craft beer. I love those thick, malty, hoppy ales, the kind of stuff that monks used to make in those dark old abbeys of Europe, the kind of beer you drink as a meal on its own. The Beer Hunter has over 150 brands of beer on tap and in bottles. They even offer their own brand.

I like to start with a Red Trolley from Karl Strauss, then move on to a dark, smokey Anchor Porter, then finish it off with something rich like a Stone Arrogant Bastard or the Chimay Grande Reserve.

The food quality seems to rival that with other sports bars throughout south west Riverside County. The Beer Hunter does offer pasta, but it's not going to compete with an italian restaurant. It does offer steaks and BBQ, but it's not going to compete with a steakhouse. And you can get tacos and fajitas, but it's not trying to be a mexican restaurant.

Instead, The Beer Hunter excels at providing you with the full sports bar experience. 150+ brands of beer to choose from, a full bar, large food portions, and a menu with a wide range of choices to satisfy whatever mood you're in.

big mac brownie
The "Big Mac" Brownie
For this review, I had their Texas BBQ Burger, which was enormous. They deck it out with all the toppings and throw on a bunch of fries. When you come into watch Kobe sink a few three-pointers, you want to stuff your face with a juicy, messy, half-pound burger, and then wash it down with a cold one. The Beer Hunter comes right through in that regards.

Throw in the extras like the Buzztime Trivia games, the Hall of Foam beer challenge, and the friendly bartenders, you get that full sports bar experience.

Best of all, it's in Menifee!

Miguel's Jr.

Genre: Mexican

30362 Haun Road
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 679-5299

(Located inside Countryside Marketplace)


Mon-Thu: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Fri-Sat: 10:00am - 10:30pm
Sun: 10:00am - 9:30pm

Miguel's Jr offers a full line of Mexican food, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and a full salsa bar.

Miguels Jr MenifeeMiguels Jr MenifeeMenifee Miguels Jr

The Beer Hunter

Genre: American

30080 Haun Rd
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 301-4700

(inside Countryside Marketplace)

Mon-Sun: 11:00am - 1:30am
Happy Hour: 3:00pm - 6:00pm

The Beer Hunter is a sports bar offering a full line of pub favorites from burgers, salads, sandwiches, steaks, pizza, pasta, seafood and more. Enjoy a full bar of cocktails, wine, along with 150+ brands of beer, including domestics, imports, and craft brews.

Dine inside or outside on the patio.

Watch 32 high-definition, wide-screen televisions tuned into live sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, UFC fights, and NASCAR. Play Buzztime Trivia, Buzztime Texas Hold'em, and arcade games. Bring in your laptop or tablet and enjoy free Wi-Fi.

There's a senior menu, a happy hour menu, and a late-night happy hour menu, including daily food and beer specials.

All major credit cards accepted.

Visit The Beer Hunter online:

The Beer Hunter MenifeeMenifee Beer HunterBeer Hunter Menifee
The Beer Hunter CateringBeer Hunter BarBeer Hunter Menifee televisions


More About The Beer Hunter

Giovanni's Pizza Pasta

Genre: Italian & Pizza

26900 Newport Road, #112
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 672-8080

(Located inside the Blockbuster Video Shopping Center)

Website: Giovanni's


Mon-Sun: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Giovanni's Pizza & Pasta is a family owned restaurant. Offering a full menu of Italian entrees, pasta, pizza, ribs, steak, seafood,  a salad bar, and evening entertainment this eatery is a little slice of Italy.

Daily lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Unlimited soup, salad, and pizza.

10 for $10 Tuesdays. Ten entrees offered for only $10 each. Choose from: spaghetti and meatballs, USDA prime steak dinner, 7 – 8 ounce Tilapia dinner, eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, Napoli herb chicken pasta, meat or spinach lasagna, and either a medium two topping pizza or a large one topping pizza.

News and Media: 

   Giovanni's Pizza and Past Offers Great Food, Entertainment (August 2013) - Menifee 24/7
   Giovanni's Serves up Incredible Savings (September 2013) - Menifee 24/7

Menifee Lakes Country Club

Genre: American

29875 Menifee Lakes Dr
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 672-4824

(Located on Menifee Lakes Country Club Golf Course)


Mon-Sun: 6:30am - 3:00pm
Bar is open during evening hours

Menifee Lakes Country Club is open to the general public offering a beautiful golf course, restaurant, and a bar. From 10 to 2 each Sunday MLCC hosts a popular champagne brunch buffet in the grand ballroom, reservations are strongly suggested.  Their restaurant, the Palm View Grill, is open for breakfast and lunch daily and their bar, the Mountain View Lounge, is open for happy hour 7 days a week as well. The Mountain View Lounge is open until 9 pm on Monday and Thursday and often features live entertainment from local musicians as well as drink specials and appetizers.

menifee lakes country clubmenifee lakes country club restaurantmenifee lakes country club bar

More about Menifee Lakes Country Club:

Papa John's Pizza

Genre: Pizza

30145 Antelope Road, Ste. B-102
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 679-7272

(Located inside the Ralph's Shopping Center)


Delivery: 11:00am - 11:00pm
Carryout: 11:00am - 9:40pm

Papa John's Pizza offers up pizza, chicken strips, and buffalo wings.

papa johns menifee lakespapa johns pizza

Cathay Chinese Food

Genre: Chinese

30141 Antelope Road
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 672-0328

(Located inside the Ralph's Shopping Center)


Mon-Sat: 11:00am - 9:00pm
Sun: 11:30am - 8:30pm

Cathay Chinese Food offers dine-in or take-out.

Cathay Chinese Food menifee lakescathay chinese food lunch special

Pueblo Viejo

Genre: Mexican

30141 Antelope Road
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 301-0299

(Located inside the Ralph's Shopping Center)


Sun-Fri: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Sat: 8:00am - 8:00pm

Pueblo Viejo is a taqueria offering a full line of Mexican food with a salsa bar.

Pueblo Viejo menifee lakes

Taco Bell

Genre: Mexican

30115 Antelope Rd
Menifee, CA 92584
(951) 301-3747

(Located inside the Ralph's Shopping Center)


Sun-Thu: 8:00am - 1:00am
Fri-Sat: 8:00am - 2:00am

Taco Bell offers a full line of Mexican fast-food, and is open for breakfast.

Taco bell menifee lakestaco bell taco salad