By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 13, 2017 at 6:04 PM

Giovanni’s, the Italian restaurant at 1033 N. Old World 3rd St. will remain open, at least for the time-being. However, the Italian restaurant is currently entertaining the sale of the building and scouting out a new location.

According to co-owner Sal Safina, the family is considering a relocation for the restaurant, which
reopened in the Old World Third location in October 2015 after a near 10-year absence following the closure of their original location at 1683 N. Van Buren St.

"We’d love to find a new location," he says, noting that parking at the current location has become increasingly challenging, particularly during sporting events Downtown. "There’s sometimes a wait of 20 to 30 minutes for parking," he notes. "And we are really looking for a location that’s more suitable for our current customer base."

The fine dining restaurant, which had a long history in Milwaukee, has been a beloved spot for many who value the restaurant’s classic Sicilian offerings. Owner Giovanni Safina came to America from Trapani, Sicily, when he was 23. After helping his brother to run the Italian Village in Madison, followed by another Italian restaurant in Milwaukee, Safina broke out on his own.

And, upwards of 30 years ago, he opened Giovanni’s on Van Buren and Brady. Over time, Safina's three sons, Sal, David and Joey, joined the family business, mastering long-held family traditions and recipes, which include unique interpretations of classic Italian dishes accented by twists from Safina's Sicilian heritage.

A potential new tenant

Old World Third Street, just blocks away from the new Bucks arena, has become an increasingly desirable area, as it swiftly becomes the center of a new Milwaukee entertainment district. So, it’s no surprise that Robert Wiltgen, owner of Who’s on Third at 1007 N. Old World 3rd St. has his eyes on the building for his next venture.

Wiltgen was unavailable for comment today. However, according to paperwork filed with the city, the new venue will be called the Oak Barrel Public House. The restaurant and bar will offer appetizers like sliders, wings, mozzarella sticks and nachos along with soups, salads, burgers sandwiches and pizza, along with a few entrees. Design for the space will be orchestrated by Flux Design and is potentially slated to begin as soon as early October.

Watch OnMilwaukee for additional details as they are available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.