Dining

Second Act

A pizza hobbyist turns pro in Brooklyn

While his peers priced Sarasota real estate and test-drove golf carts, Paul Gianonne (aka "Paulie Gee") hatched a different kind of retirement plan: open a pizzeria in Brooklyn and feed a bunch of hungry hipsters.

Before unveiling his Greenpoint restaurant last month, the former IT manager had perfected the art of Neapolitan-style pizza in a homemade brick oven in his New Jersey backyard, where he earned something of a following for his secretly sourced tomato sauce and fior di latte mozzarella.

Now he's traded up for a wood-fired forno from Naples: Its white-tiled exterior and fire-breathing belly is the first thing that catches your eye when you enter Paulie Gee's. (The rest of the space--designed by the folks behind nearby restaurant-piano bar The Manhattan Inn using materials from Build It Green--is a clever study in recycled design.)

On any given night, you'll spot Paulie in front of the oven, stretching his chewy, yeasty crusts by candelight. His pies already deserve a spot on a short list of not-entirely-authentic-but-admirable-nonetheless Brooklyn pizza (alongside Roberta's, Motorino and Saraghina).

In addition to the 10 or so pies ($13 to $17 each) on the menu, there are a few simple salads and a blackboard of nightly specials that utilize local purveyors: We recently tried (and loved) a pie topped with guanciale from The Meat Hook and baby kale from Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, which became crispy and gossamer-like thanks to the oven's blast.

While Paulie waits for his liquor license to clear, you'll have to pair your meal with bottles of Mexican Coke. And don't be surprised if the chef stops by your table for a spell; as proud as Paulie is of his pizza, he's always striving for the perfect pie.

Paulie Gee's, 60 Greenpoint Ave. (between Franklin and West sts.), Brooklyn; 347-987-3747 or pauliegee.com

Paulie Gee's 60 Greenpoint Ave. New York NY 11222 347-987-3747

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