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Giorgio's Pizzeria
151 Clement Street/3rd Ave., SF
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Giorgio's Vardigan

If this were a real restaurant review in a newspaper or weekly, you know it would be called "Gorgin' at Giorgio's." But our reviews don't have headlines or titles, just our modest names atop them. We only trot out the pun-making, word-playing flair in subject lines of e-mails back and forth. An uproarious little game you'll never see, barring a documentary tracing the strings behind this "irreverent celebration of cheap Bay Area füd, as they call it." (Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2003)

Gorge we did, at Giorgio's. A monumental meal, marking as it did Judge Turner's return to his rookie place of employment in San Francisco. If we didn't have a job to do (gorging), we'd have all had a good, honorable bawl. A lawyer could convincingly argue that "San Francisco Dining for the Average Eater," our tagline, truly began with Judge Turntable's arrival in San Francisco, and his many greasy nights in Giorgio's kitchen. eughfuhfd (Excuse me, that was my tears hitting the keys.) So, obviously, an emotionally charged night for the judges. You should see our diary entries (documentary).

The experience at Giorgio's somewhat recalls Gaspare's. You're in the Richmond eating a pretty basic pizza pie, seated in a booth under fake grapes. Turner drank some cheap red wine, McClure a beer, and me a Dr. Pepper (on draft). The Dr. Pepper was not great. The pizza was excellent, greasy and pretty thin in the crust, with just cheese and pepperoni. I'm a one- or two-item man when it comes to pizza. Toss some red pepper flakes on and I'm set. As usual, I could not wait for the pie to cool, so I bit right in, and burned my mouth roof, which is really more of a ceiling, isn't it?



Who doesn't love pizza? I do know someone, Magistrate Louise, who does not love pizza. I also know a guy, Jay Manning, who could eat it every day. I fall in the middle somewheres. Pizza every day would get in the way of other treats like cheesesteak, Indian grub, or Burmese cuisine. I might eat pizza every day if it came on a stick but I haven't seen that since the 80's.

Giorgio's is a pizzeria I've been frequenting for a few years now. Once I finally went I wondered why I had avoided it for so long. Probably because it's in the Richmond District, you know a bit of a trek, or maybe 'cause Judge Turner used to work there.  Just to let you know, I don't think I've ever ordered anything other than pizza and salad at Giorgio's so I can't speak for the pastas and other items.

So, the pizza is great. Definitely on the thin crust side of the pizza world but not your super thin cracker crust type. The outer ring bakes up soft and doughy, making every bite a delight. We went basic on this trip: pepperoni pizza, X-Large=12 slices=$15.75. There was plenty of meat, cheese, and a wonderful sauce. All put together they serve up one delicious pie. The salads are a good deal. The house salad is $4.15, the small antipasto salad is $6.50; either can serve 2-3 people. All the salads come with "The Famous Giorgio Dressing," which seems to be basically oil and vinegar with some special seasonings, very tasty indeed. You also get nice soft french bread and butter.  The service is fast and friendly but Giorgio's can get crowded -- don't be afraid to wait a bit.

One last thing: I liked when we got free pizza at work but I'd rather have gotten a raise.



On a cool autumn day in 1987, a 20-year-old man walked into Giorgio's pizzeria looking for a job. Having rolled off a Bakersfield hay wagon only a few weeks prior, his funds were nearly depleted. If he couldn't get a steady job, he might not be able to afford beer, let alone Top Ramen. But with a history in the culinary arts, including the pizza industry, he got the job. And through this job he was able to pay the rent, maintain proper beer levels, feed his no-account rocker roommates, and gain a toehold in the city that would be his home for the next 15-plus years.

I don't know who that clown was, but his story is identical to mine. So, when we accidentally found ourselves diving into Giorgio's, I must admit to feeling nostalgic. It had been roughly 15 years, after all. Not that Giorgio's isn't a swell joint, and not that the people weren't nice, but I'm just the kind of guy who doesn't go back to his old workplaces. Turn the page and whatnot. Onward and upward. But there I was. And practically nothing had changed.

There was Vic, the owner, and Sandra the waitress. I didn't see Patrick or Manuel, the pizza cooks, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're still around. Also absent were Jack from the Philippines, Emilio from Peru, and Briege from Ireland. Didn't see Lee, the punk dishwasher who once made (and ate) a pizza with dog food on it. But, there was the pizza oven where I got the worst burn ever pulling a tray of cannelloni out. I was the non-pizza cook, see. And the old-world charm was still intact, with lattices dripping fake grapevines over big red booths. Looked about the same.

Which is good, because Giorgio's is all about being an old school pizzeria. And pizza you should get. Unless things have changed, there is a lot less attention paid to the pasta, meat, and sauce dishes. But the pizza is as honest and forthright as you can get. They did, and most likely still do, make their dough fresh every day, out of just a few ingredients. You know, flour, salt, yeast, water...that kind of thing. They also sliced their own mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, and vegetables fresh daily. Mixed up a simple tomato sauce. Just fresh, honest, handmade pizza pie, that's what I'm talking about! It's good, get that, and maybe a salad and garlic bread. The salad is also a hearty, honest affair, with enough cheese and meat to make it interesting if you want. Good dressing. Good bread. Good cheap red wine (or not-so-cheap Chianti). What more do you want?

I think I avoided Giorgio's for so long because I thought it WOULD be the same after all those years. If that makes any sense. When it WAS the same, it turned out to be a welcome relief. Now I wish I hadn't turned so many pages before dropping back in. There's comfort there. And, before I drop to the floor and weep like a child, let me just say: Go get a pizza.






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