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.
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?