There is always so much hype around pizza (for good reason), and Milwaukee recently got two new wood-fired pizza shops. The newest pizzeria to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony is San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana located in the heart of downtown. The owner, Gino Fazzari (with an Italian name like that, you know it’s got to be good), opened the pizza place as a passion project after having run the family-owned Italian restaurant, The Calderone Club, for years (originally called The Caradaro Club and founded in 1969). Additionally our chef alongside Gino that evening told us, and I quote in my best Italian accent, “I moved for pizza!” Did I mention he moved from Naples, the pizza capital of the world?
San Giorgio is soon to be the only pizzeria in Milwaukee with a Vera Pizza Napoletana certification (and only the 97th in the U.S.), officially making it known for pizza being up to the prestigious standards of authentic Neapolitan style pizza. The oven is also authentic to the Neapolitan style as it was shipped straight from Italy. The ceramic blue oven contrasts perfectly against the white subway tile-lined walls and produces some of the tastiest wood-fired pizza in the city. Sitting at the pizza bar in front of this blue baby watching the artists at work is the best way to take it all in too.
When in Rome (or San Giorgio), one should do as the Romans do and order appetizers! We started with the arancini and the ever-so-classic bruschetta. The saffron risotto stuffed rice balls (arancini) were deep fried to perfection, evenly golden brown and crunchy with a soft interior. What made the dish really stand out was the tomato sauce, which is a perfect ten in my opinion. The bruschetta came in two versions – the classic with tomato, basil and burrata as well as one with roasted peppers, garlic and balsamic.
The star of the show, the pizza, did not disappoint whatsoever. The center was soft; there was the noticeable elasticity of the dough in the crust; and the ingredients were incredibly fresh – all the essential characteristics of Neapolitan pizza. We opted for the Margherita con Prosciutto e Rucola and the namesake pizza, San Giorgio. The Margherita pizza was defined by the San Marzano tomato sauce. The infamous San Marzano plum tomatoes with their delicate sweetness and low acidity are inherently Italian and perfect for any pizza, but particularly this one. The San Giorgio, a bianco pizza with a Mozzarella cheese base, was also excellent and the sunny side egg was the cherry on top of this pie.
Between the scrumptious food, Italian wines and friendly atmosphere, San Giorgio easily has one of the best casual dining experiences around. And while the weather continues to bolster freezing temperatures and snow, I can assure you there will be more nights spent sitting at the bar in front of the wood-fired oven with a full-bodied glass of Sangiovese in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. Like they say in Italian – fare una spaghettata (let’s get together and eat)!