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Meet Karina Kravalis and Marco Provino of Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karina Kravalis and Marco Provino.

Husband and wife duo, Karina and Marco, come from extensive hospitality backgrounds. Between the two, they’ve worked in nearly every facet of the restaurant industry. Karina has over a decade of operational and managerial experience, while Marco has been cooked in top kitchens in both Italy and San Diego. It’s been their dream to own a neighborhood eatery, and what better place to open their first concept then in their own community of Lemon Grove.

Executive Chef Marco Provino’s passion for cooking started at a very young age. Growing up in Bagheria, Sicily, which is known for its stunning gardens and sumptuous villas, Provino would often help his mother and grandmother make ravioli, lasagna, fresh pomodoro sauce and tiramisu, or help his father tend to their garden. This gave Provino a deep appreciation for where his food came from, and helped feed his cooking philosophy of using high quality ingredients always.

After culinary school, Provino took his first chef job working in Palermo, where every morning he sourced fresh fish right off the docks, and local produce from the markets. Once he moved to the US, he took a job as executive chef in the bustling Gaslamp, where he learned to serve great food in a fast-paced environment. Now, with experience working in many types of restaurants, Provino is ready open an eatery that pays homage to his Italian roots; where a sense of community and warm service goes hand-in-hand with great food at modest prices.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Marco and Karina built every part of the restaurant themselves. They transformed it from a tired space into a vibrant, cozy place to gather. Most restaurateurs hire outside help to build their dream. Marco and Karina built their dream with their own hands, from the exterior facade, to the interior. They literally made their dream a reality.

Please tell us about Giardino Neighborhood Cucina.
Located in the middle of Lemon Grove’s charming downtown area, Giardino is a welcoming and casual Italian-inspired cucina where the neighborhood gathers for fresh and flavorful classic dishes found throughout Italy. Its bright, modest interior and friendly service create a relaxing dining experience, while daily happy hours and a hand selected wine list provide multiple reasons to come back often.

We are most proud that we can offer Lemon Grove residents a family-owned option to dine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We could have opened our first restaurant anywhere in San Diego, but chose Lemon Grove because we live in the neighborhood and love the community.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
So far, we haven’t learned too many hard lessons yet only being open for a month. However, we knew our location would have its pros and cons. We are not in a high foot traffic area so can’t count on that business, but we do have plenty of residents around us, as well as businesses that have become regulars.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 8131 Broadway,
    Lemon Grove, CA, 91945
  • Website:
  • Phone: (619) 825-7112
  • Email:
  • Instagram: giardinosd
  • Facebook: giardinosd

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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