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Wednesday & Thursday: 11:30 am to 9 pm
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In a New York Minute
By Mitch Allen
February 9, 2006
When Francisco and Angelina Giardina arrived in New York from Polermo, Italy in 1912, they brought something special with them – their recipes. And once in New York, as word spread about the quality of Mr. Giardina’s spaghetti sauce and other hearty Italian favorites, neighborhood kids began calling him simply, “Mr. G.” Today, in just three American cities, a few of Mr. and Mrs. G’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren are serving old-world Italian dishes using those same recipes. Those cities are New York, Miami -- and Fairlawn.
“My Uncle Sammy and my Cousin Frankie own a pizza shop in New York,” explains Mark Giardina, owner of Mr. G’s Pizzeria in Fairlawn. “And my sons Michael and Mark own another Mr. G’s at 19th Avenue and 79th Street in Miami, Florida.”
There are at least three reasons why the Fairlawn Mr. G’s is worth a twice-weekly visit: 1) pretty much everything is homemade; 2) the portion sizes are out of control; and 3) the pizza pie.
The Giardina family uses several different homemade sauces, including a Marinara made from a secret mixture of fresh tomatoes, purees and spices, and an Alfredo sauce that isn’t prepared until you order something requiring it. The meatballs are hand-rolled (often by Mark’s wife, Debbie Giardina, and his mother, Mama G) and the Italian sausages are shipped in regularly from a specialty wholesaler in Youngstown. (That’s okay, I’m hearing the Sopranos theme, too.)
The portions are so large that you’ll rarely see a family leaving without a to-go box in tow. In fact, Mr. G’s large 24-inch pizza won’t even fit in my mid-life crisis sports car. Whenever we order one I have to pick it up in my wife’s SUV.
And that’s the real culinary joy of Mr. G’s Pizzeria -- the pizza. They offer all kinds, but my favorite is the New York, New York, made from Francisco’s original recipe. You know you’ve had a real New York-style pizza when you have to fold the pizza slice in half to eat it. That’s because the crust is ultra thin, accentuating the flavor of the fresh marinara and spicy pepperonis. Any advertised New York-style pizza that you don’t have to fold represents pure marketing-hype.
Other Italian classics on the menu, priced between $7 and $10, include Eggplant Parmesan, Baked Ziti, Ravioli, Veal Parmesan, Linguini Alfredo and Mrs. G’s Famous Gnocchi, featuring tender potato dumplings smothered in a homemade cream sauce. You’ll also find a host of gourmet pizzas and fresh salads, sandwiches and soups. On Fridays look for all-you-can-eat fish and enjoy all-you-can-eat spaghetti on Sundays.
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Mr. G’s also features a selection of dinners, including Linguine and Clam sauce.
If you like a glass of Chianti with your Eggplant Parmesan or a cold beer with your pizza, you might be disappointed. The Giardinas are still waiting on an elusive Fairlawn liquor license, but that may be exactly what’s attracting so many young families to Mr. G’s.
You should also know that because each order is freshly prepared and cooked in a stone oven instead of on a conveyor belt, the wait is about five minutes longer than at many other pizza shops. That may not sound like much time, but an extra five minutes between you and a classic Mr. G’s New York, New York Pizza Pie can seem like an eternity.
Where’s a New York minute when you need one.
Mr. G’s Pizzeria is located at 2955 West Market Street at the Miller Road intersection. Look for it behind Rite Aid. For delivery or pick-up, call 330-836-1111. The pizza shop also offers catering, pans of pasta and gourmet salads serving 20-25 people. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Ask about corporate or personal catering.