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Friday, August 1, 2014

Gigi's Italian Kitchen

I think it's safe to say at this point that wood-fired pizza is no longer a novelty. We haven't quite reached the point of a wood-fired place in every neighborhood, but we're not far off.
One of the latest is Gigi's Italian Kitchen in Irondequoit. This joins an already-busy scene near Hudson and Titus, which includes 2 Ton Tony's, Mark's, Bay Goodman, Cam's, and Little Caesar's, all within a few blocks of each other.
Gigi's is not perhaps a direct competitor of those, since it's a bar and restaurant rather than a straight pizzeria, but it still adds to a crowded pizza field in that neck of the woods.
Gigi's menu offers six specialty pizzas, and a substantial list of make-your-own options, with five sauces, fourteen veggies, and seven meat toppings, plus a fresh-mozzarella option.
As usual, I went with the Margherita (Gigi's gets a point for spelling it correctly). It's described as topped with "simple" red tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, with is pretty much the description of a classic Margherita.
First impression? Nice-looking pizza, not too blackened along the edge (I've seen too many wood-fired places that think that blackening the edge is what it's all about), melted but not browned fresh mozzarella, and wilted leaves of basil. And the sauce wasn't totally evaporated, which was another plus.
Next, I checked the underside. It was well blackened, and firm but not quite crackly. I picked up a pleasant aroma of toasted bread.
Tbe toppings were very good. I intend to follow this up with a talk with Gigi's pizzaiolo, but as I write this, it's Friday at lunchtime, so it's probably not the best time to try that. But I'd like to know what the difference is between Gigi's "NY Style Red Sauce" and their "simple" red sauce. I'm guessing the former has some spices added, but it's not obvious from the menu. I'll try to speak to him or her later, but I want to get this post up today.
I liked the basil. I love basil, and to me, the best way to add it to a pizza, aside from including it in a sauce, is to add leaves just before or after the pizza comes out of the oven. These were perfectly done, wilted enough to adhere to the pie but not dried out.
The cheese was good as well, even if it didn't quite knock my socks off. It was nicely baked, softened but not browned, but not quite as semi-liquid and creamy as the best that I've had. But it was good.
When wood-fired pizza became the Next Big Thing, a lot of places seemed to think that wood-fired pizza guaranteed success. But I have to think that the market is getting close to the saturation point, and I'm sure that the initial and ongoing investments are pretty steep. So you'd better know what you're doing if you're doing wood-fired pizza.
And based on this one-time visit, I'd say that Gigi's knows what they're doing. This was well-made pizza. It was somewhat unusual, in that many wood-fired pizzas I've had are blackened around the edge and pale underneath. This was nicely browned along the edge, and very dark underneath.
Ideally, I'd like it a little more balanced than that, but this clearly came from a good, hot oven, and the blackening wasn't severe enough to amount to a burnt crust. I certainly preferred this to a pale crust that's been given the quick, last-minute blackening treatment.
You can see more of Gigi's menu on their Facebook page, but on a revisit, I think I would try the pizza again. I can't say it was perfect. It was almost too blackened underneath, and the crust wasn't quite crisp and it wasn't quite supple. But overall I liked it. I'll give this pizza a B, and I'll make a mental note to go back before too long. Definitely worth checking out.

Gigi's Italian Kitchen & Catering
2256 Hudson Ave (near Titus Ave)
Rochester, NY 14617

Tues thru Sat: 11AM - 2AM
Sun:11AM - 10PM
Mon: Closed except for private parties

1 comment:

  1. For many years there was a 'Gigi's Italian Restaurant' at 630 West Ridge Rd in Rochester, NY. The family that owned & operated Gigi's eventually converted it into 'Bathtub Billy's Sports Bar' which is still in business today.

    Additionally, for a few years in the 1970's Gigi's also operated a pizzeria in the same plaza as 'Bathtub Billy's'. When the pizzeria shut down, the building was taken oven and converted into an 'Abbott's Frozen Custard', which for many years was very successful, until the demise of Kodak Park and a general decline in the area demographics eventually forced Abbot's to close.