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Winner
Italian Füd Trial Versus Buca Di Beppo
and Granada Cafe

Gaspare's
5546 Geary Avenue/20th Ave., SF
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Pretrial hearing at Trad'r Sam
3/3/01

McClure

Two for one at Gaspare's. It's a pizza house and Italian restaurant all under one roof. The great part is they do both really well. We started with the "Pizza House" fare and let me tell you it was far more than fair. The style is thin, thin cracker type crust that is hard to beat. We had the Pizza Margherita: garlic, olive oil, sweet basil, oregano, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. Sounds simple but it's full of flavor. The pizza menu is large: no less than 27 specialty pizzas. I favor the minimal topping pizza myself and with the thin crust Gaspare's offers you won't want too much getting in the way and weighing it down. Eat it as soon as it hits the table, because the crust weakens quickly, especially in the center, so you could end up with a soggy mess.

Next came the main course, from the Italian restaurant portion of Gaspare's. I went with the basic rigatoni with meat sauce, also offered with your plain ol' marinara. I topped it off with a couple meatballs, for a couple extra bucks. It was well worth it. The meatballs added the extra zing a pasta dish can use. My dish was great, no complaints, except for maybe the price: $11. Judge Vardigan opted for the spaghetti with Italian sausage. I'll take the meatballs over sausage any day. JV, not being the shy type, added a couple meatballs just to call it a party. I think I saw him flashing back to an episode involving a jar of sauce on his door step with a similar Italian sausage poking up over the rim. I must say he really seemed to enjoy his meal.

Judge Turner let us partake of his delicious and large portion of Veal Cutlet Alla Parmigiana. An enjoyable entree that I was happy to taste. Throw a little bread and butter on top of all this and you'll leave Gaspare's stuffed all the way up to the smile on your face. Get on out to Geary and have some super pizza/Italian food. Saturday was a bit crowded but they are open 'til midnight.

 

Turner

Stop eating now and save room for Gaspare's. Pizza, pasta, chicken, veal and eggplant -- all clamoring for your belly at this old world eatery. I don't know how long Gaspare's has been there, but it seems like a long time. And that's good. Fake grape vines hanging from the ceiling (that's class!) and mini '50s-style jukeboxes in the comfy booths. Bring quarters.

And for the love of the Pope get some pizza. We three shared one as an appetizer. Pizza Margherita ($11.25 for a medium) -- garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano and mozzarella. It rocked! And I tell you now, New Yorkers, that this may be the pie you've been so vocally mourning since you were forced out of your beloved city. Thin crust, but with that micron thick layer of cracker-like crispiness. I don't know of another pie around with such a perfect thin crust. Maybe Goat Hill Pizza...anyway, check out this pizza pie, I think they've got some crust voodoo going on.

Then there was my entree, Veal Cutlet Alla Parmigiana ($13.25). Real good. Of course, it's hard to go wrong with a hunk of veal that's breaded, fried, then topped with melted cheese and tomato sauce. But the veal was tasty and crispy, the cheese plentiful, and the sauce flavorful. Alongside that was my vegetable, which was like "greens"...I'm not sure what it was. Like mustard greens, but with white veins in it....well it was pretty good with some salt and pepper.

The "dinners" and entree prices are kind of steep for a non-gourmet joint, but they get away with it. The place was packed on Saturday evening. I think their atmosphere and solid menu make it worthwhile, and thin crust pizza lovers should at least check THAT out. Eat! Eat!

 

Vardigan

The Richmond rolls out a very wet welcome mat in March, but if you can make it inside Gaspare's before dissolving, you'll find a warm and comfortable refuge. In fact, after eating, you may just want to curl up in a booth and wait out the rain...until May.

After a grueling two hours of afternoon basketball, I believed I might have trouble getting full. So I kind of went overboard, ordering meatballs (just a dollar extra) on TOP of my spaghetti with Italian sausage. In my defense, I didn't know they'd come at me with a full sausage, but there it was, atop about of a pound of pasta -- and with the meatballs over that, well, I felt like quite a glutton. I sat sheepish. And I really couldn't eat much more than half, as much I wanted to. When you consider that, the $9.95 price tag is a pretty good deal, because I got another full meal out of it the next day.

The food won't bowl you over (except for the pizza, maybe -- see Judge Turner's review), but the old-time atmosphere and satisfying, generous plates make Gaspare's a winner, especially on a downpouring night, out in the avenues, far away from home.

Thanks to reader-eater Pamela for suggesting Gaspare's.

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