Open Tuesdays through Thursday from noon to 11:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Closed Mondays. Parking is a game of chance and the chances get worse after 8 p.m. or on Saturdays. Accessible by wheelchair. American Express, Bank of Virginia and the Master Charge. You may want to call ahead for a crowd count.
We've always thought of Geppetto as the kindly old guy who could carve a mean puppet, but in Georgetown it's slices of lively pizza that have made his name popular with young and old. Indeed, there's nothing wooden about this place except for the beams above the brick walls.
All sorts of people had said go to Geppetto. All sorts of people had said that even the non-pizza fare there is great. But all sorts of people can be wrong. These were good sorts, though, and they proved to be absolutely right.
For one thing, Geppetto is not your run-of-the-road pizza factory with kids in silly hats slapping around discs of dough and filler. This is a smallish cafe with menu to match, where those of us with a shallow knowledge of deep-dish pizza can discover that the old, familiar flats of pasta just don't measure up to today's high-rise models.
It was a weeknight and early, which is the only way to penetrate Georgetown easily, so we'd been able to find a few feet of exposed curb after only two laps and the four of us had secured a table before things began to crowd up a little at about 8 p.m.
The tables are plain, finished in a sort of imitation chopping-block design. Somehow, they blend with the beams and bricks, paints and puppets, fireplace with gas-jet log and above the mantle, a goofy-sketch of five bunnies on roller skates.
A young man who introduced himself as Dave - and who was almost disarmingly cordial for the rest of the evening - began by taking our pizza order, since you need about 25 well-invested minutes for this.
There are two sizes - normale and grande - and unless you've got a crowd, you'd best stick with normale. It would take at least four voracious bambinos to dent the grande.
Plain normale is $3.25 and plain grande is $5.95. Each extra on top is $1 more on the normale and $1.50 on the biggie. When shared that's not a bad value.
In a rare burst of unanimity, our 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter elected for a normale with pepperoni, at $4.25. During the wait, they enjoyed birch beer while their parents had some without birch.
My wife also found a marvelous appetizer: fried mozzarella. That's right, it can be done, cubed and breaded, at $1.90, and it comes with anchovy butter as an elective. For us it came with four plates and lasted less than 45 seconds. I also tried the zuppa del giorno, which for this day was a potato and leek soup at $1.25 that had a taste better than its consistency.
The salads look gorgeous and, three tasters reported, were dressed according, from alfalfa to croutons to cucumbers.
Now came that pizza. From our son, a nod of approval. From our daughter, a gasp and watery eyes: This was some spicy zinger, all right, but after an emergency call for water, her speech was restored and compliments were uttered.
Meanwhile, my wife learned that the deep-fried eggplant, prosciutto and cheese sandwich at 2.85 is not only quite grande but rich. The whole works was coated with a deep-fat-fried bread crumb, making it look like an enormous egg roll.
From the daily specials, I chose spaghetti bolognese at $4.75, which had a creamy, smooth sauce and bites of good sausage. Another special that day, by the way, was canneloni stuffed with chicken, at $5.75, but if you think the canneloni was stuffed . . .
Nevertheless, one of those friends of ours had said try the ricotta pie. One slice at $1.50 and four forks was all we could handle - but this is something not to be missed. Chocolate, nuts, crumb-crust and all - it's a rich way to top off a wealth of fine food. Our bill for everything was $23.22, plus tip.
On the door, a sign says, "Ciao Tornate Presto," which is how Pinocchio, without Disney's help, would have said goodbye and return soon. We suspect that for us, it may be quite presto indeed