151 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118; (map); 415-668-1266; giorgiospizza.com
Pizza style: New York-style
Oven type: Gas
The skinny: This family-friendly pizza parlor serves slices with a crisp end-crust but not enough flavor.
Price: Large pies from $15.50 to $27
At Giorgio's Pizzeria, the tablecloths are red-and-white checked, and the ceiling is decorated with ivy and Christmas lights. This is not just a pizza place but a real pizza parlor. There's often a crowd of mothers and children waiting for a table—the vibe is friendly and decidedly neighborhood and family-centric. It is this unpretentious, simpler-times sort of charm that makes me want to love the pizza at Giorgio's. But ultimately, I find it kind of forgettable.
Giorgio's pizza is New York-style, with a thin crust throughout. The crackling-crisp end crust is seductive. Further chewing, however, reveals the need for more depth. I wished the crust had been a bit more flavorful, and the undercarriage of the pizza went cardboardy almost immediately.
I had a similar reaction to the cheesing and saucing of my pies. Giorgio's tops their pizzas with cubes of full-fat, aged mozzarella, and this flavor dominates the plain pie. It is rich, but also somewhat bland. There was no extra level of flavor from the sauce, which was a non-entity on the pizzas I was served—neither the tomato nor any herbs came through.
With pizza of this sort, one has to rely on the toppings to spice things up. Both mushrooms and meatballs proved too quiet a presence on Giorgio's pizzas. A much better option was the sausage, which came in chunks and shined through the layer of cheese with a nice bit of heat and good fennel flavor. Giorgio's menu includes a variety of special pies, such as Greek pizza, spicy Hawaiian pizza, and bacon blue cheese pizza—maybe these are where the flavor is found?
During my visit to Giorgio's, a little boy's birthday party was taking place in the back, which seemed about right. This is pizza that is mild enough to keep even the pickiest of little kids happy, and that's just tasty enough to keep parents content. In fact, a few bites of that crisp end-crust and the parents might even convince themselves that it's really good. For me, this is pizza that will do in a pinch, but it certainly calls for a heavy hand with the red pepper shaker.
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