New York feels so saturated
with Neapolitan-style pizza restaurants that you can barely throw a wad of
dough without hitting a wood-fired pie in any neighborhood. Greenpoint is just
the latest area to embrace the trend with Paulie Gee’s, which opened mid-March
in the old Paloma space.
Run by its namesake, Paul
Gianonne, this rustic restaurant is nestled in the hippest part of the
neighborhood near staples like The Pencil Factory and The Black Rabbit, and,
from the look of the crowd gathered on a recent weekday night, this joint is
gearing up to become a permanent fixture.
Upon entering the
restaurant, its appeal immediately becomes apparent. The space is decked out like an old farmhouse, with rough
wooden paneling, low lights and charmingly rusted bits of metal strategically
placed on the walls and doors. There is no kitchen, just an ingredient counter
and giant, white-tiled pizza oven straight from Naples, which warmly glows from
the fire within as a young man slowly feeds it pies. The open space beckons you to sit down at one of the
candle-adorned wooden tables, and peel open the paper menu.
The lack of kitchen becomes
clear when you start to read the menu; the only things offered here are a few
salads, nine pizzas and a slew of non-alcoholic beverages (wine and beer are
coming soon). This didn’t seem like a problem since, based on the specificity
of the menu and what I had heard about the quality of Gianonne’s pizza, my
expectations were high. Unfortunately, while the space is divine, the food
The first pie we tried was
the Regina: tomato sauce, basil and fior di latte mozzarella for a reasonable
$13. It also comes with Pecorino Romano, but, even with the addition, the pizza
somehow came out bland. The crust lacked the sweetness I associate with the
Neapolitan style and the boring sauce was so runny that it slid right off the
slice as we picked it up.
When we received the King
Harry pizza ($16), we hoped the flavor would improve by adding prosciutto di
Parma, but again we were disappointed. This pizza tasted exactly like Regina, which is a feat considering the
thinly sliced cured meat tends to add a salty and savory punch to most
dishes. Perhaps if there were more
then a few small dollops of cheese, or maybe if the sauce had a personality of
its own, the pizza could have been saved. The Greenpointer ($15) we tried was
much better then the other two, not shocking considering it lacked the soupy
sauce and, instead, was decked out with a pile of fresh arugula that brightened
under a spattering of lemon juice.
Aside from the food,
another problem Paulie Gee’s faces is the lackadaisical wait-staff skulking
about the space. While Gianonne himself runs about the restaurant gleefully,
chatting to tables and bringing them samples of this and that, the servers he
hired appear more concerned with keeping up their disaffected style then
actually listening to the customers. I was particularly peeved when, given the
size of our small table, I requested the pies be staggered in their delivery.
Assured that this happened naturally, we settled in, only to have pizzas piling
up around us. Also crowding the table were mounds of dirty napkins that no one
appeared eager to remove.
In the end, the service was
saved only by a last minute comp by our rat-tailed waiter who removed the
unappealing Nutella and strawberry dessert pizza ($7) from our bill. After
waiting about 20 minutes for our sweets, the other being two lousy half scoops
of freezer-burned Van Leeuwen ice cream ($5), we expected the dessert pizza to
be hot. Instead, it was cold bread slathered with what appeared to be the whole
jar of Nutella and a few slices of fresh strawberry.
With better Neapolitan-style
pizza restaurants popping up all over town, and plenty of other spots to eat at
nearby, Paulie Gee’s is the rare pizza place that we’ll pass on visiting again.
60 Greenpoint Ave. (betw.
Franklin & West Sts.), Brooklyn, 347-987-3747.