The restaurant reviews on websites and in newspapers are often of a certain pedigree, describing meals that can cost a table for two over $200. It’s easy to forget that outside the world of expensive restaurants and celebrity chefs, restaurant reviews are limitless and can include anything from McDonald’s to Red Lobster.
Allow me to introduce you to and wax philosophically, if you will, about the virtues of my beloved favorite Italian restaurant - Gina’s Pizza, Deutsche Broadway – Elmonte. It’s a love story, well, a love – hate relationship, I guess.
I still remember my first time. Yes. “It was like the second coming of Christ”
I really love this place. I have been going since it opened. I had the hugest crush on the daughter of the owner and I would come in after class when I was in jr. high and try to talk to her. But the skate store next door opened up and all the skaters got to her and one of them got her pregnant.
I never saw her again.
Oh yeah, and the garlic knots are good and they will usually hook you up with a free garlic knot to try.
I once had a girlfriend who gained 20 pounds eating these pizzas. After I broke up with her and she moved out of town she shed 40 pounds and rubbed it in my face.
If you like delicious pizza these guys make an excellent pie. Just try to keep your girl away from it or you might regret it.
I brought another girlfriend here once and the food was good but then the waiter leaned in close to me and whispered “this is the season for death” and carved a pentagram into my pizza and then nobody else would acknowledge that I was there?
The chefs end up looking like demons stoking the fires of hell.
Rage can overtake a person at Gina’s: the place is what used to be called a rip. But if $22 means nothing to you, if it is the equivalent of the dollar the rest of us can spend on a slice of pizza, the restaurant is welcoming and the people-watching is awesome, like the nutty fruitcake lady blocking the side entrance.
Buy the kids a playstation and order Dominos.
Things change, as does Gina’s.
At a fine Friday night out with my new girlfriend I sat across from her and at length, I asked my server what she would recommend. She suggested chicken Alfredo, and I went with that.
If the soup had been as warm as the wine, if the wine had been as old as the chicken, and if the chicken had a breast like the waitress, it would have been a lovely meal.
The place at one time became very 'fancy shmancy' like, and it was like a parade of exotic ingredients, confused and overpowering sauces, and ideas piled one on top of the other until the recipes simply collapsed under their own weight.
At that time I recall thinking this restaurant isn’t in the hospitality business. It’s in the attitude business, projecting an aloofness that permeated all of my meals there, nights of wine and poses for swingers on the make, cougars on the prowl and anyone else who values a sort of facile fabulousness over competent service or a breaded veal Milanese with any discernible meat.
All things are in flux and nothing is permanent.
If ever a pizzeria in new york could benefit from a facelift, Gina’s is the poster child. In my opinion, I am shocked that some reality show hasn’t heard about this place and offered to help. Upon walking in, one might think they haven’t updated anything since they opened all those years ago.
Many folks who love great pizza spend a good portion of their adult lives obsessing over it – searching for it, traveling near and far to eat it and, ultimately, compiling a list of their favorites.
These aficionados sift through details obvious and obscure, asking what exactly has to happen to make a great pizza.
The water? The dough? The temperature of the oven? Maybe the cheese? The passion of the chef? A touch of magic?
When and if they find their way to Gina’s Pizza in Elmonte, their search may well have reached new heights.
To taste the pizzas that come out of the oven here – blistered and charred and bubbling – is to confront a mix of art and science and, surely, a touch of the unexplained.
I am happy to know Gina’s all these years, through thick and thin.
My favorite, my precious – Gina’s Pizza, Deutsche Broadway - Elmonte