Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza – Grand Rapids
When we lived in Lansing, I loved the option of pizza-by-the-slice places. It seems like you can almost always find a place that caters to the college crowd in the big college towns.
In Lansing, there were two big places that each had two locations within a mile of each other. One of those places, Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza (locations on Grand River Avenue and Charles Street in East Lansing) expanded over to Grand Rapids.
Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza is on Ionia Avenue Southwest just off Fulton Street near the Van Andel Arena. It’s on a pretty heavily traveled street that also has a number of other dining options. In Lansing, the Georgio’s buildings are both kind of run down. The Grand Rapids locations is obviously newer and looks like it gets a little more TLC.
The store is part of a row of buildings that fronts the streets, so there is no parking lot. You have to find someplace on the street and when there’s an event at Van Andel, that can be kind of tough.
As my luck would have it, there was a Griffins game the night I stopped in. I took my chances and pulled in to a nearby loading zone knowing I would only be in the restaurant a few minutes. I flipped on my flashers and crossed my fingers.
The kitchen and counter area in the back of the building. The front is made up of one large booth that runs down the middle of the store and is shared by a bunch of tables. There are also tables throughout the rest of the space so you can easily enjoy a quick, delicious meal before events at the arena next door.
The thing that is great about Georgio’s is their huge array of gourmet pizzas. You can get the basic slices, but they have a huge selection of off-the-wall slices as well. While that’s a good thing, they do a horrible job of labeling them in the display. You would have to almost literally stand there and ask what ever slice is because looking at them, you’re probably going to guess wrong.
There were a couple that looked good to me and when I asked what they were, I guessed completely wrong. I got a little frustrated at that point and just saw two slices of pepperoni sitting close by and asked for those. The one that I read the most raves about is the Mac and Cheese pizza which I also would have liked to try, but I didn’t see anything sitting there that looked like Mac and Cheese and I didn’t ask about. The thing I could never figure out about Georgio’s was whether or not all pizzas were available at all times or not. There was a pretty good line forming behind me and I didn’t want to hold anyone else up.
Once I selected my two slices, the guy working threw them in to a little oven near the counter to warm them back up. While that was happening, I paid for the two slices which cost just a little over five bucks. Since I was taking them to go, I skipped the pop because I can get it cheaper and the flavor I want back at work.
The re-heat took just a few minutes. It was packed up in a small pizza box and I was back to my car before anyone noticed I was parked somewhat illegally.
I never expect great pizza whenever I go to a pizza-by-the-slice place. I just expect good pizza and that’s what I’ve always gotten from Georgio’s. You never know how long a pizza has been sitting under warming lamps, but since there was a lot of activity downtown the night I stopped in, I’m guessing they were getting quite a bit of turnover. My two slices were really good and the crust even had a pretty solid crunch to it. That crust is hand made and hand tossed right there in the kitchen. While I was waiting, I noticed one employee firing up the big mixer while another employee was stretching out dough on a couple pizza peels to make more to restock the dwindling supply in the display case.
Georgio’s looks to be starting a franchise program which would be a great thing for a lot of college towns that are lacking this quintessential college experience (yes, like Kalamazoo).
I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with any place that caters to this clientele. Had I went to a major university that had a place like this close, I would have gained a lot more than fifteen pounds in my first year. Georgio’s makes a really good slice and there are times that’s all you want.