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.
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