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The Early Word on Gioia Pizzeria in Russian Hill

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Photo: Aubrie Pick

With an established fan base in Berkeley, Gioia Pizzeria made it’s jump from a pizza-by-the-slice East Bay joint to a full fledged restaurant in San Francisco in mid-April. Started by Brooklynite Will Gioia and his wife Karen Gioia, the brand's pizzas have been hailed a go-to for New York expats looking for an East-Coast-ish slice and what Karen calls “a California mentality.” Illustrating the kitchen's pedigree from places like Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe, and Bar Jules, the Polk Street menu also has things like radiatore pasta with guinea hen ragu, and soft shell crabs when they're in season. How has the leap to SF fared in the public eye? To the Early Word, for a read on the situation.

The Pizza News: Tasting Table, on the pizzas: “chewy but pliant enough to fold, and toppings are applied with a light hand.” SF Station’s Brad Japhe explains that the “East Coast-style thin crust pizza... comes crisp with billowing cornicion from a large Montague oven.” He recommends the Salsiccia pie: “[an] optimal blend of spicy and savory and I wish had another slice or 4 in front of me as I type this.” David Kover at Serious Eats digs the Julian, “a pie named for the Gioias' four-year-old son, with toppings that change to match his temperament...the combinations on this pie usually have some heat. These days, it's sweet and spicy prosciutto cotto, along with some chili, red onion, garlic, and provolone.” And Urban Daddy writes “We’d steer you toward the funghi pie”

The Decor News: “The design elements are as artisanal as anything you’ll find in the walk-in [fridge].” writes Meesha Halm at Zagat, and Tablehopper calls the decor "industrial-yet-rustic" and "appealing."

The Compared-To-Berkeley News: “If you’re familiar with the original Berkeley locale, expect the opposite,” writes Urban Daddy and Halm at Zagat reviews, “this new buffed-out Russian Hill outpost bears little resemblance in (food, looks or seating) to the original.” FoodNut writes, “The San Francisco location is much nicer, with lots of tables, but you still need to go up to the counter to order your food.” and is overall “much more appealing than a pizza slice store.” SF Station reviews that it is “quite an evolution beyond the cozy pizza parlor vibe of the East Bay original. “

The Crowd News: “Dinner brought one-hour waits as Russian Hill swells and pie-freaks lined up to see what all the fuss was about,” Zagat writes. SF Station ensures that the “several notable additions make it well worth the wait.” On Four Square, john r. offers this advice: “Avoid dinner crowds. Eat there for lunch.”

The Lunch News:Food Nut describes how the “Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with Mozzarella, Chicken Cutlet, Parmesan, Marinara ($11) came on an Acme bun and proved to be a pretty large sandwich, fresh out of the fryer. Good stuff.”

The Entrée News: “Don’t let the pizza define the experience.” writes Tasting Table adding, “It would be a shame to miss the fried squid, broccoli and spring onions ($12), sided by a big dollop of aioli” as well as the “Five Dot Ranch skirt steak glistening with bagna càuda ($26)”

The Antipasti News: “the sous chef [Ryan Cantwell] has a thing for pickles” Zagat writes and they “can be ordered as a separate antipasti plate and occasionally turn up as a topping on the pizza.” SF Station reviews: “The housemade charcuterie as well as the Bellwether Farms cheese-stuffed shells appear to be standouts.” And simply put by Raffi K. on Four Square: “Best meatballs I've ever had.”

· All Gioia Pizzeria Coverage [~ ESF ~]

Gioia Pizzeria

2240 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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