Is it just me, or is it challenging to be in the heart of downtown (think Circle City Mall area) and find a lot of independent lunch places? I find myself in that area about once a week these days and have been trying to venture out of a couple of usual haunts. On this day, I walked down to the Circle and checked out Giorgio’s pizza. This place has been on my list ever since several people told me they did decent New York style pizza.
I went in and asked for my usual favorite toppings—mushroom and red onion ($3.35 a slice with 2 toppings). They were happy to accommodate my request and piled the toppings on a piece of cheese pizza. I also got a breadstick on the side ($1.05) (I like that you can order them individually). So when I got my pizza, I was thinking it wasn’t looking that appetizing because there was so much stuff piled on top and the mushrooms looked like they came out of a can. You know what I mean right? They were darker brown and like they had been soaking in some sort of fluid for awhile. My preference is for freshly cut mushrooms.
As I sat down, I thought, I will just scoot all those off and eat the pizza with a few of the nicely thinly sliced red onions. But then I thought I should take a bite with the mushrooms first before I pass judgment. You know, they actually were kind of good—they were seasoned, maybe with some garlic and while the texture wasn’t what I would have chosen, they really ended up tasting pretty good on the pizza. And the onions were the perfect size, like I said.
The pizza slice under those toppings itself was quite enjoyable—not the super large slices you see at some of the other New York style places, but tasty. The crust was quite crunchy, more so than some, but had a nice flavor with a sauce that was a bit sweet and with just a hint of underlying spiciness. I liked it quite a bit. And it wasn’t overly sauced, or overly cheesy, which are two of my pet peeves. This is not the kind of pizza you can fold in half very easily, so some of you might say it isn’t traditional New York style, but the crunchiness was nice (and no one really seems to agree on this anyway).
The breadstick was basic, but had the nice tenderness inside that differentiates a breadstick from pizza crust (even though it is likely the same dough being used). I enjoyed the chewiness of it in contrast to the pizza crust. The cheese sauce was your standard nacho cheese, no better, no worse as far as I am concerned.
The guys working in there were super friendly and efficient, and the friendly words I received upon leaving were enough alone to make me want to come back. It is amazing what a little friendly customer service can do.
So, I was thinking as I sat there, do any of you remember another pizza place that was in approximately the same location I think, way back in the 80s? Was it called Chicago’s or something? As I sat there, I flashed back to hanging out on the Circle with some friends in high school and getting some pizza there. And back then, there was NOTHING going on downtown at night. It was almost like a ghost town. It is amazing how much our city has changed since then!
Anyway, I digress, but I think Giorgio’s is a worthy downtown spot for a quick lunch and a decent New York slice. Of course, as always, I welcome further feedback on this search! Also, if you have any suggestions for places to grab a bite in that area, please let me know.
9 East Market Street