Brooklyn’s newest pizza drama is playing out in Greenpoint, just blocks from Metropolitan, in a space that was previously a restaurant of a former Top Chef contestant. The new chef is someone with considerably less airtime, a guy from Jersey named Paul Giannone — Paulie Gee.
Until weeks ago, Paulie’s pizza-making was mostly confined to the oven he built in his yard. Now pizza-lovers and aficionados are gathering to see if this former software quality assurance engineer can pull off dreams of joining the City’s elite pizzaiolos. It’s the kind of New York— er— Brooklyn story you can literally sink your teeth into. To learn more about his story, check out this interview.
There’s a favorite-pair-of-worn-in-sneakers feel — one designed by Evan and Oliver Haslegrave, the team behind the Manhattan Inn. An ancient register by the door, lampshades on a shelf near the ceiling surrounding the room. Wood. Brick. There are ample views of the maestro working at the bar in front of the white-tiled oven he had made to resemble the one he built in Jersey.
“Until weeks ago, Paulie’s pizza-making was mostly confined to the oven he built in his yard. Now pizza-lovers and aficionados are gathering to see if this former software quality assurance engineer can pull off dreams of joining the City’s elite pizzaiolos.”
Paulie is a dreamer and a story-teller, but there are also signs of a perfectionist: “The dough is not quite how I want it, the spotting is not quite right.” Fair enough, he’s finding his way. But early indications are that he has entered, guns blazing.
The pies were well-spotted, with thin bottoms and bready crusts. Neither crisp nor rigid, these are almost knife-and-fork pies. Not a bad thing— in Naples, Da Michele’s pies are eaten that way.
For those who don’t like kale, try the E & O. The leaves are translucent, with that fried basil garnish effect. There is a popcorn quality to it: salty, crispy, addictive. Also, popcorn-like as in the thin shell outside of failed kernels of the bottom of the bag.
There’s the Palme D’or, then there’s the Parma D’or. Lemon juice might not be the first thing you’d think of on pizza. Normally, acid on a pizza comes from tomatoes, but lemon succeeds in drawing out the other flavors. It’s a nice nod to the lemons of Amalfi, part of Paulie’s theme.
The special, Off the Hook, is nicely wet with a sauce that’s sweet, but not overly, and slightly chunky. The Mootz, a white pie, is named for Paulie’s son. It was surprisingly juicy for a non-sauce pizza. It’s too early to say where Paulie’s pies fit into a ranking of New York’s best Neapolitans. But he has definitely entered the conversation. One thing is certain: in Greenpoint, the G no longer stands for Ghost Train, but “Go there for good pizza.”
60 Greenpoint Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Phone: (347) 987-3747
This post was originally published March 20th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.