I’m starting up a new feature here on the Manliness where I defend the honor of my home metro. Look, we know we’re not a major city like DC. We have a giant body of water dividing the southside and the peninsula, the Navy won’t let us build bridges that don’t have tunnel sections, and the southside’s main west-to-east artery, Interstate 264, is an abominable mix of a driveway and a minefield. I hire a Sherpa guide every time I drive on it. But we have like 7 miles of light rail! That’s pretty cool, right? And if there’s an inch of snow on the ground everyone pretends not to know where to get some sand, so we all get a day off of work and school. Yes, kids, there are things here that are worth liking. For my first entry: Gianna’s Pizza in Suffolk.
Gianna’s is in Harbour View, this development that’s been slowly building up since 2000. Originally there was just a movie theater that you could see from the interstate (I remember seeing it when I did drivers’ ed), then they added a Wal-Mart on the other side of I-664, and they’d been adding things ever since. Harbour View houses the only Panera Bread convenient to my house. Gianna’s is on the western side of the interstate, in a strip mall anchored by a Harris Teeter, one of the few chain grocery stores where someone from 757 can comfortably park their Aston Martin DB9. They have a fancy cheese section.
Pizza in Hampton Roads tends to suck. If you want it delivered to your house, your choices are generally the national triumvirate of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa Johns, our local pizza conglomerate Chanello’s, and some wild card local to your house. In our case the wild card is Vinny’s, who make decent pizza and will deliver zeppolis to your house. Vinny’s has this Achilles’ heel, though – it has to be delivered, and you never know if you’re the first house or the fifth house on their route. I’ve lived in this condo for more than four years and good pizza has been an issue the entire time. When I saw Gianna’s open in Harbour View, I was curious. A look at their very positive Urban Spoon profile made me even moreso, so the girl and I decided to give them a shot one Thursday night.
First, the restaurant itself looks good. It’s in a new strip mall, so they aren’t dealing with the ghosts of some failed business that occupied their slot a year before. There’s a massage place next door but I’m 67% certain it isn’t a handjob massage place (let’s see how long they last…), and obviously the aforementioned Harris Teeter brings 757’s best and brightest who didn’t choose to live on the peninsula near. The lights aren’t too bright, the tables and chairs all look good, and you can see into the kitchen. Two bigass, two-level pizza ovens are clearly visible from just about every seat and they make fantastic use of them.
We had a good waitress. Some reviews say the service wasn’t good, but we didn’t have to deal with that. Our waitress kept our diet cokes full. We ordered garlic knots to start off – in my experience garlic knots are little things, but that wasn’t the case that night. I upped the order to a dozen, thinking they’d be the size of slightly-fatter chicken nuggets, and what we got were…garlic muffins. They were incredible, and we didn’t get close to finishing them.
If I could say anything negative about the garlic knots, I’d say there’s too much garnish. They probably have a bowl of green shit back there and a spoon for dumping, so I can see how it would happen, but it’s a gripe. That’s a very minor gripe, though. The knots are great, the dipping sauce is good, the whole plate is a great way to load up on carbs before the main event: the pizza.
We ordered the margherita pizza despite neither of us being vegetarians because, well, tomatoes are good. Most places use large tomato slices on that type of pizza, but Gianna’s skewed small. That’s not important, though. What’s important to a place with an Italian first name on its sign is the crust. I’m happy to say the crust lived up to the promise of the glorious ovens they so prominently displayed.
The pizza was great. The sauce wasn’t too sweet, they didn’t go overboard with the cheese, and our waitress had the pizza on the table within a minute of it coming out of the oven. The girl and I couldn’t finish the whole thing in one sitting – or at least we didn’t want to admit to each other that we could – so we split the leftovers. My slices and the remaining garlic knots reheated perfectly in the office toaster oven the next day. I have seen Gianna’s pizza next to Harris Teeter for months, and I definitely regret waiting so long to give them a shot.
Gianna’s pizza is absolutely a reason why 757 doesn’t suck. Give them a shot.