213 N. Washington St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 3 p.m to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Most items $3.50 to $6.
Credit Cards: None.
There are more bad pizza places in this area than calories in a calzone. So when we find one as good as Giuseppi's (that's not a misprint; it's the way they spell it) we get positively ecstatic.
This is a first-class pizza joint that buys quality ingredients and has the skill to handle them properly. The quality and skill show up in the subs, too, terrific sandwiches that hardly resemble the cheap blobs served in most places. Giuseppi's is nice-looking -- bright, cheerful, clean as a whistle -- and the family that runs it couldn't be more friendly and accommodating.
The heart of a pizza is its crust, and Giuseppi's crust could hold its own anywhere in Brooklyn. This is the real New York article, baked directly on the oven's hearth instead of on a screen, with the flavor of good homemade bread and a properly puffy rim. Our only complaint: It's rolled out too thin in the center, so the toppings soak through even before the pizza reaches the table. (According to the menu, you can specify "double dough," which should thicken the crust and may take care of the problem.)
The toppings are top quality: good mozzarella and meats and an outstanding tomato sauce, fruity, chunky and fresh-tasting. (Giuseppi's tends to be timid with the garlic, so you might specify extra.)
Good as the regular pizza is, beware of Giuseppi's peculiar version of white pizza, in which so much olive oil is poured over the top that it passes through topping and crust and sits in a puddle on the serving tray. (The seafood pizza, which we didn't try, also specifies olive oil, so be wary.) There's also a "Hawaiian" variety, which we couldn't bring ourselves to order -- anyone who actually volunteers to eat pineapple on a pizza deserves a medal for bravery.
Giuseppi's does an outstanding, very classy steak and cheese sub, on top-notch, crusty French bread, with thin-sliced ribeye steak and just a bit of provolone, plus beautifully sauteed sweet and hot green pepper and onions. The hot sausage parmesan sandwich is another winner -- the same good bread, lightly toasted, filled with excellent sausage, lean, peppery and fennel-scented, plus a little cheese and some of that good tomato sauce. This beauty bears little relation to those heartburn-inducing sausage subs you generally find elsewhere.
The boli (calzone) at Giuseppi's is a mixed bag. The filling -- admirably fluffy ricotta, excellent sausage and ham, mushrooms and onion -- is flawless. But the dough wrapper is unpleasantly heavy and oily.
Even the best pizza needs a good salad to offset its doughiness, but most pizzerias serve awful salads. Not Giuseppi's. Their "side salad," a good buy at $2.25, is a big platter of iceberg lettuce and romaine with red cabbage, carrots, croutons and a very good, herby Italian dressing made with red wine vinegar.
There's an excellent antipasto, a generous portion of ham and capicola, with Tuscan peppers, olives and grated provolone on a bed of lettuce and tomato, with more of that good Italian dressing. It's big enough for two and a good value at $4.95.