Last summer I met a man in a pub. We soon got chatting about food and travel and the conversation swiftly moved on to the pizza in New York. Now I’m no expert but I certainly did try my fair share of slices whilst I was in the Big Apple early last year, and I’ve been craving one of those super skinny cheese topped goodies ever since. As we continued to chat, Eugene revealed to me that he was getting into the pizza business himself and was currently on the lookout for premises in the Itaewon area to open up his own New York Style Pizzeria. I was as happy as a clam upon hearing the news, despite the fact that there’re about 8 pizza restaurants on every corner of the neigbourhood, most of them leave a lot to be desired. So I waited, and waited and waited, until finally, about 6 months later, I heard that Gino’s was to open its doors, and the second I came back from Bali I accepted Eugene’s kind invitation to come and give it a try on the house.
Gino’s is located just above the strip by Coreanos, which conveniently situated quite near to my house. The restaurant is a warm and welcoming mix of brick and wood and has seating for about 30 patrons.The place only opened its doors on Christmas Eve and are still in the soft opening phase, so they only have about 10 different pizzas thus far, along with a handful of sides. The pizzas come in two sizes, regular and large, but let’s face it the large size is the only logical choice, they just taste so much better for some reason.
After scanning the list the pizzas that cried out most to me were the White Pies, I love a white pizza, it’s almost always my first choice if there is one on the menu. There are two kinds of white pie at Gino’s, so Eugene kindly offered to make me a half White Pie, half Nellie Pie which is his house speciality, we got the large size which is 36.000. The White Pie is topped with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, shaved parmesan, sesame seeds and caramelized onions. The medley of fresh cheeses topped with the sweet and slightly tangy caramelized onions was spot on, but what really stood out was the crust. It was baked to the ideal shade of golden brown and had the crisp and slightly chewy texture an NYC style slice should have. The edge had just the right amount of puckering, while the base was perfectly thin without going quite so far Italian style. As far as I’m aware there is no other pizza quite like this in the city.
The Nellie half is topped with arugula, prosciutto, balsamic reduction, fig jam, and shaved Parmesan. This was my kind of pizza, I adore the mix of sweet fruit with cheese, throw in the peppery rocket(arugula) and the balance was complete. Again the crust was perfection, and it really shone through with salad style toppings on it. TFB & I both chose this as our favourite. Eugene told me that the white pies are still a work in progress, while they are already glorious as they are, I wouldn’t mind trying a version that has a bechamel sauce on the base as I like my pizza extra saucy. The Nellie is a must try though.
When I think back to my time in NYC, the pizza I loved the most was the plain cheese (25,000). While I appreciate nothing fancy, my man likes a bit of meat on his pizza so we made the other half NY Supreme (36,000). The plain cheese is simplicity itself, tomato sauce and a blend of fresh and shredded mozzarella. While it’s a very good version of an NYC slice, it’s almost too simple, so I added the garlic salt on top to just give it that extra pip. The supreme is not really a pizza I would choose but after I had peeled off the pieces of pepperoni (I just loathe it) I actually didn’t mind this, lots of lovely vibrant veggies that you don’t seem to get with cheaper supreme pizzas. As supremes go, this was a good one, but as I said before, it’s just not one that I would order.
We washed our pizza down with a bottle of Peach Snapple (4,000), though they also have a collection of beers and a house wine available too. While Gino’s is still in it’s test phase, it’s clearly what this city has been waiting for as they have been selling out most nights. Pizza is big business in Korea and I’m sure it wont be long before there is a queue out of the door, so I’d advise a visit before it’s featured on the likes of Tasty Road
Gino’s is located at 46, Noksapyeong-daero 40-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6). Use the elevator to exit the building so you come out by the bridge. Walk over the bridge and turn right and follow the alley way around. Gino’s on the second floor of the strip of buildings where Coreano’s is. For more information you can call them on 02-792-2234 or check out their facebook page.