By 6 pm sharp, a horde of people had already gathered in front of Paulie Gee’s, clamoring to try the first pies of a certified pizza madman — all this for a man who last summer was still just a pizza enthusiast, making pies in his backyard.
For months, Twitter, Facebook, foodie blogs, and even pizza blogs kept sounding the alarm that the opening was imminent. But the delays only fueled the excitement.
“We heard this place was opening at 5:30 and rushed to be the first,” said Nathan Maxwell Cann, 24, who had the honor of getting the first pizza that Paulie Gee, aka Paul Giannone, pulled from the oven, a pie called the Greenpointer that features homemade fior de latte, arugula from the Rooptop Farms, fresh lemon juice and shaved Parmigiano. “It’s fantastic and it’s beautiful. It really raised the bar for pizza in the neighborhood.”
The pie — a Neapolitan-style cloud of dough — developed a cultish following while Giannone was still a quality assurance engineer by day, churning out pies by night in a homemade brick oven in his New Jersey backyard.
The eatery is in the old Paloma space, but with a significant facelift — Giannone hired hOmE, the design team behind the Manhattan Inn, to give the place a rustic feel that includes reclaimed wooden tables and tin ceilings and walls.
“I almost don’t believe it,” said Giannone, beaming in front of his imported brick oven. “This really is a dream come true.”
Pizza lovers will feel the same way.
Paulie Gee’s [60 Greenpoint Ave. between Franklin and West streets in Williamsburg, (347) 987-3747]