It must be a nail-biting, harrowing decision to open a pizza joint in New York City, home of 'modern day pizza'...that is to say, 'pizza'. Akin, maybe, to opening a shaved ice stand in Alaska. Lucky for us, Paul Gianonne—AKA Paulie Gee—overcame whatever trepidation he may have held. But don't mistake baseless risk-taking for plans well-laid. After becoming fascinated with wood- and coal-burning oven pizza years ago, Gianonne—a former IT professional—began exploring the various old-world-style pizzerias of New York and beyond with his sons. Then he eventually built his own Neopolitan-style wood-buring pizza oven in his Jersey backyard and inviting pizza bloggers (yes that's a thing) over to test his wares. After perfecting his technique and building up some solid buzz, Gianonne opened Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint in 2010—a vast, high-ceilinged, barn-like space that provides cavernous, late-night atmosphere in the middle of the day, doesn't take reservations, boasts an impressive, rotating beer and wine list, and shovels out some of the best pizza we've ever had.
And we, of course, wouldn't be writing about the place if they didn't have some pretty exciting offerings for vegans. When we first visited, shortly after their opening, we were pleased to find that they not only offered the vegan, tapioca-based 'cheese' Daiya on their pies, they had a whole vegan menu, featuring house-made vegan sausage, aleppo chili oil, and a bevy of exciting topping combinations. Then, last fall, after being harassed by...someone in-restaurant and via the Twitter, Paulie added a cashew-based, ricotta-like nut 'cheese' (pictured above) that makes this place easily our favorite pizza spot in New York.
Pizza-lovers and vegans alike need to check this place out ASAP if they haven't already. For those who do—Paulie's the super-talkative, super-friendly grey-haired man likely wearing a baseball cap and going table to table to check on how you like meal. Ever a pleaser, that guy.
Check out Jane Pauley's recent profile on Gianonne's mid-fifties life change below. It's got an awesome AARP-style soundtrack. Because it's from AARP. You can see the full piece here.