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BADA BING: New York flavors burst on Princess Street, thanks to Geno’s

No one saw it coming. One day we were strolling into The Greeks for our spanakopita fix, the next … everything had changed. The shawarma spinners were gone and pizza ovens had taken their place. Whatever the ILM-rumor-mill cranked out about the restaurant’s mysterious change-of-hands, who knows what really went down? What’s most important is: We’ve got a new kid on the block who is putting a little pep(peroni) in our steps.

Welcome to Wilmington, Geno’s.

SAUCY DELIGHT: Geno’s stromboli will be a perfect bite with crisp crust, gooey cheese, hearty meats, and acidic tomato sauce. Photo by Emily Wilson

SAUCY DELIGHT: Geno’s stromboli will be a perfect bite with crisp crust, gooey cheese, hearty meats, and acidic tomato sauce. Photo by Emily Wilson

With fan favorites like I Love NY, Fat Tony’s and Slice all within walking distance, opening a pizza joint near the Riverfront is a bold move. But one thing setting apart Geno’s from the rest is they offer downtown delivery—and not through a third party. So for those Sundays you can’t pick up your pieces to go grab a piece, give them a buzz and don’t move from the couch.

The menu, although limited, gets the job done. Now, don’t expect a full-blown restaurant that happens to have pizza; this isn’t it. Geno’s is keeping it as straightforward as it gets: pizza, stromboli and a calzone that should be eaten with a bib and an episode of “Seinfeld.” Everything is priced fairly average, but don’t blink and miss the best deal of all. “The Bada Bing” sounds like a pie topped with maraschino cherries—or at least from “The Soprano’s.” It’s not. Available in two sizes, the pizza is a steal in that it offers four (or more) toppings at no extra charge. That means: quadruple pepperoni and still get the mushrooms and banana peppers for free. Yep, I said “fo’ free!”

In an attempt to test out the delivery service, I gave Geno’s a ring a little before 8 p.m. on a midweek evening and was told my order would be about 35 minutes. In almost exactly 35 minutes, a nice man was placing two mammoth boxes on my kitchen counter. Prompt service with a side of kindness. Off to a good start. I had a few combos in mind, so I opted to sample a few different varieties in all shapes and sizes.

A note on the slices: Geno’s observes the northern tradition which claims several slices of pizza are actually one. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me here: More pizza is always better than less, and I feel less guilty when I hear two slices are actually one.

My first bite was topped with pepperoni and mushrooms. It was easily as large as my head and folded like a charm. The only thing missing was a hint of salt, but all-in-all it was a pretty solid slice.

This may be a personal preference, but I found myself far more drawn to the veggie—loaded with crunchy peppers and onions. By the time I got to the crust, it needed a dip in some extra sauce. Under the cheese, it was thin and chewy, while toward the end it got a little dry. I’m a crust-corner brownie-type person, so maybe I’m just being picky.

Something to keep in mind: There are no gourmet gimmicks at Geno’s. Button mushrooms rule out shitakes. It’s simple, traditional, New York-style pie, and when it comes to the menu, no salad, breadsticks, feta, or pineapples are anywhere to be found.

I moved on to the half-moon-shaped calzone, stuffed with ricotta, ham and mozzarella. Also, it was the size of the actual moon—an enormous dish fit for a family of three and loaded with gooey, fluffy ricotta. I was surprised to see it listed on the menu with three set ingredients (as usually the base is ricotta and diners pick their own). I’m sure Geno would allow a customized calzone, but the salty ham and creamy cheese worked nicely. The dough—likely the same one as under the pizza—seemed to be rolled out a bit thinner as it had a more a delicious, delicate crisp to it. The marinara alongside for dipping was a little watery and light for my taste, but had a good balance of sweetness.

The stromboli, also crescent-like in its colossal stature, came jammed with loads of sausage, pepperoni, sauce, and mozzarella. Everything was tasty, but not necessarily memorable. My fillings creeped out when I sliced the beast down the middle, but no one ever said Italian food wasn’t messy. When ordering with a crowd, the calzone and stromboli look identical, so make sure to peek inside before passing out dinner plates.

Last up was my favorite (and most flavorful) bite of the night. I was curious to see how gigantic one of Geno’s full-size pies would be, and it didn’t disappoint. The white pizza was oil-based and the thin crust came lightly topped with garlic, mozzarella, glorious gobs of ricotta, and a dusting of dried Italian herbs. The simplicity of the pie and the fruity, garlic flavors gave it an elegance that helped it stand out from the rest. Thanks to a modest amount of toppings, this was by far the lightest option on the menu. For a heartier version, adding chicken and spinach would take it to the next level.

Let’s be real: It’s hard to do pizza wrong. Geno’s was a satisfying and easy dinner after a long day. Keep in mind I was sober, so imagine how these massive slices would taste to someone stumbling out of Goodfella’s right next door. Perks include downtown delivery and thin scratch-made dough, so how could anything go wrong?

DETAILS:
Geno’s
124 Princess Street
Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat., Sat., 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
910-769-8374
facebook.com/genospizzawilmington

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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