Giovanni’s is one of the last abalone brokers on the California coast. Due to the shellfish’s wild popularity in China — and lack of local enthusiasm for it — California’s erstwhile signature seafood has become scarce in the U.S.
Giovanni’s does what most fish markets do to attract attention: fry up fish and chips. But you still can get “scalone patties”: disks of pounded-out scallops and abalone once popular on California seafood menus.
That said, our favorite individual lunch at Giovanni’s is a crab quesadilla. It is about half a Dungeness stuffed into lovely tortillas. The only weakness of this crab pocket are its outside corners, which lack the mounds of succulent lump that the center boasts.
If crab and cheese isn’t your favorite combination, there are other good options. The combo seafood basket is a benchmark for coastal seafood shacks. Its fries, squid, and shrimp are excellent, even if its fish and scallops are just average. The squid is memorable for being perfectly tender and coated in an extra peppery dredge. Next time we’d just get squid and chips.
Giovanni’s chowder is a standout. We especially appreciate that every cup gets finished with a pat of butter. We keep the butter unmixed so it floats on top as you spoon it up, coating morsels of clam as they are hoisted from the soup.
Many locals upgrade fish and chips from standard cod to the slightly more expensive halibut. The halibut is more flavorful, but both cuts of fish are eclipsed by too much breading on a thin fillet. The reason, of course, is to keep prices low. This is one of the last places on the Coast where you can get a piece of fried fish for a couple of bucks. We hope it stays that way.