Gialina: Loved It.
Last night I went to Gialina with four people, including two regulars, and was impressed with the place and the food. Glen Park: where have you been all my life?
For starters we shared an arugula salad, meatballs and salt cod patties. Arugula (from Mariquita) was so superior I wanted to photograph it to file under "arugula" in an encyclopedia of excellent greens. Really delicious meatballs that were surprisingly light and filled with crunchy bits of pistachio and pine nut set against a bright tomato sauce. The salt cod pleased no one: too "fishy" for two people at the table, though I (the only one who likes bacalao) thought the flavor was not nearly aggressive enough.
As far as the pizzas, some interesting choices, all thin crust.
The two regulars are vegetarians and shared the margherita and three cheese pizzas, which, frankly, sounded boring to me. I curse my quick judgment: the three cheese was a fantastic combination of ricotta, provolone and pecorino. The balance of salt to fat was perfect, little spiky taste bombs in your mouth. Highly recommended.
Another winner was the pizza with wild nettles, Boccalone pancetta, red onion and provolone. Lovely, earthy nettles and still-crispy pork strips.
The only pizza I didn't love was the fig, but probably the only thing I make at home and am not embarrassed to serve is a pretty excellent fig pizza. Theirs didn't top mine, but I am a tough (and maybe impossible) customer on that front. To me, the fontina wasn't tough enough to balance the fat, sweet figs.
Overall, food was great, and I loved the atmosphere and friendly servers. I was there with two suburbanites, including one who is about 80 years old, and while I can't imagine bringing them to cramped Pizzeria Delfina or Piccino, the spacious dining room was pretty and not overly noisy, and the menu was interesting enough to feel cosmopolitan but still accessible.
I agree - Gialiana is fantastic and the waiters are super nice. I have gone twice, one with my picky 65+ year old parents who loved it as well. For me, it's up there with Delfina and Pizzaiolo (Pizzaiolo and Picco are top notch). I prefer Gialiana to A16 these days too after a disappointing visit to A16 a few months ago.
I was just there last Sunday and had that pizza with the nettles. It was even good leftover the next day. I LOVE their crust too. I joke that I would order just the crust without the pizza. It's just the right combo of crispy and chewy. My husband swears they put butter in it, it's so savory. Gialina kicks A16's pizza butt.
re: Scott M
The space is fairly small. The tables along the banquette wall are very close together, as in elbow to elbow with your neighbors. There are individual tables as well, which are nice. As for a wait, I have waited about an hour for a table for two before but generally the wait is 1/2 hour or so.
My husband and I really enjoy Gialina but like the crust better at Pizzeria Delfina (and the new Pac Heights location is very spacious).