By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 01, 2017 at 3:01 PM

The ribbon has been cut at the new San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana, a passion project spearheaded by the Calderone Club’s Gino Fazzari.

The restaurant, which is located in the former Thai Palace at 838 N. Old World 3rd St., hosted soft openings this week. Although a date has not yet been set, Fazzari predicts he’ll open the doors to the public sometime next week.

In the meantime, we had the opportunity to take a peek at the space and try a few of the items on the San Giorgio menu, which includes appetizers, soups and salads, panini and – the star of the show – Neapolitan style pizza.

San Giorgio is on the cusp of attaining its Vera Pizza Napoletano certification, an honorable designation which verifies adherence to traditional methods for producing authentic Neapolitan style pizza. Such certification requires that the pizza be made in accordance with a number of specifications, including ingredients, type of oven, baking temperature and the characteristics of the end product.

According to the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana guidelines, "The consistency of the pizza should be soft, elastic and easy to manipulate and fold. The center should be particularly soft to the touch and the taste and appearance of the pizza must be evidenced by the red color of the tomato.

"The crust should possess the flavor of well-baked bread. The slightly acidic flavor of the densely enriched tomatoes, mixed with the characteristic aroma of the oregano, garlic or basil ensures that the pizza, as it comes out from the oven, delivers its characteristic aroma of a fresh and fragrant typical Mediterranean product."

San Giorgio will be the only VPN certified restaurant in Milwaukee, and one of only four in the state of Wisconsin (including Il Ritrovo and Harry’s Prohibition Bistro in Sheboygan and Naples 15 in Madison).

The restaurant, which possesses a classic modern feel, features stark white walls set against Cream City brick and exposed wood ceilings. Seating is available at the long marble-topped bar or at a variety of both high- and low-top tables.

Ten seats along the pizza counter allows customers a view of the lovely cobalt blue pizza oven and the pizzaiolo at work.

A full bar features cocktails and 13 draft lines featuring Italian classics like Peroni and Birra Moretti, along with a variety of Wisconsin craft beers. Meanwhile, the moderately priced wine list focuses on varietals from regions across Italy.

Appetizers include standards like bruschetta, calamari fritti, arancini (saffron, mushroom and parmesan) along with mixed Italian olives marinated with aromatic lemon and orange peel, Calabrian peppers, extra virgin olive oil and Italian parsley.

Polpette fatte in casa (housemade meatballs) feature beef, pork and veal served up in pomodoro sauce with basil and grated Grana Padano cheese.

Soups include classics like pasta e fagioli and minestra di pollo arrosto con patate with rotisserie chicken, potato, carrots, celery, onion and rosemary. And salads include classic Caesar, wood-fire roasted beet salad, and the Don Antonio with roma tomatoes, basil, onion, red chili flakes, fresh oregano, garlic, olive oil and sea salt.

Panini include ciabatta topped with porchetta, the traditionally seasoned slow roasted pork, picnic shoulder, broccoli rabe, wood-fired oven roasted bell peppers and provolone.

Meanwhile, the rosticceria will showcase spit roasted Italian-marinated rotisserie chicken served up with crisp rosemary potatoes and sauteed rapini.

The ten varieties of Neapolitan pizza (priced $10-16) include the classic Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella, Parmigiano, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

The Genovese (pictured above) boasts basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, Grana Padano, salami, extra virgin olive oil, basil and cherry tomatoes.

The glorious namesake, San Giorgio, boasts braised fennel, crisp pancetta, fresh mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, baby arugula and extra virgin olive oil topped off with a sunny-side-up egg.

Among the short list of sweets with which you can complete your meal (including tiramisu, gelato, sorbetto and cannoli) is San Giorgio's Nutella calzone featuring sweet ricotta cheese and Nutella wrapped in pizza dough, baked in the wood-fired oven and served up with fresh, seasonal berries and whipped cream.

Once open, San Giorgio will be open for lunch and dinner. Proposed hours are Monday through Thursday noon to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.