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Giotto 

First thing is, you say it "gee-oh-tow." Not that Bill Ferchak is picky. In fact, he notes that some of the older Italian guys who hang around at his new South Side pizza parlor say, "JO-tow."

Second thing -- actually, the most important thing -- is the pizza itself. It's good. Quite good. There's thin crust in four styles: Margherita (fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil); bianca (moz, ricotta, garlic); Neapolitian (classic tomato 'n' moz); and the near-cheeseless marinara. Dough fans can go Sicilian.

The slices are huge. Plate-sized. You won't mind paying up to $3.50 a slice when a slice is practically a meal.

And it seems that few do mind. At 7:30 on a recent Friday night, Giotto boasted a line to its door, its stools and high tables full. Customers keep one eye on their molten cheese and the other out the big windows, on twilit East Carson, as four Giotto staffers scoot around the compact area between front counter and oven.

Ferchak knows this stretch of Carson: For seven years he's owned the adjacent Rex Theatre. When he decided to open a pizza stop in the storefront vacated when Carson Street Deli moved, he called on his friend Gino Girasole, co-owner of Shadyside's Girasole restaurant and a top pizza chef.

Giotto, which opened in January, serves till 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It's also got subs, pepperoni and vegetarian rolls and -- to complement opening at 8 a.m. six days a week -- a small coffee bar

Ferchak says customers are satisfied with the pies' old-school authenticity -- including diners who've lived in Italy. The proximity to the Rex, meanwhile, lures well-traveled guests like jazz guitarist Al DiMeola. Ferchak says the musician told him, "I've played all over the world, and who would have thought that in the middle of nowhere I'd find the best pizza I've ever had?"

By "middle of nowhere," of course, DiMeola meant "Pittsburgh." But Ferchak didn't take offense. Especially because a bit of Italy's built into the place in the person of Ferchak's father-in-law. Every morning, the Abruzzi native comes in to make the day's dough, make the coffee and shoot the breeze with local Italians.

Ferchak says his father-in-law once lived in Rome, working a job he hated. Helping out at Giotto is "the chance for him to actually be Italian."

 

1610 E. Carson St., South Side
412-904-3277

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