2240 Polk St
This Italian spot has a welcoming rustic feel to it, the kind of place you can show up dressed up or down and fit right in. The décor is simple and homey; heavy dark wood tables, chalkboard walls, warm candlelight and simple bouquets of local flowers. Beyond the bar seating they boast a relatively open kitchen so the smells of delectable pastas and pizzas fill the cozy dining room. Perfect for a laid-back date night or a relaxing dinner with friends and family from out of town.
Drool. Is that an acceptable way to review food? If not, allow me to go into more detail. Gioia focuses on utilizing local, in-season ingredients while maintaining a consistently scrumptious menu of traditional Italian fare. The menu is simple, which as a person who has serious food FOMO when eating out, I really appreciate. It’s broken into four sections: antipasti (small starter plates to share), pastas, secondi (larger entrée plates) and pizzas (14” and 18”). Despite how un-complicated the menu is, we had the hardest time picking what to eat because everything sounded mouth-watering. This is a good problem to have my friends. We settled on the meatballs to start and the Salsiccia pizza for our main course. The combo of Sicilian sausage and pickled jalapeños on our pizza was absolutely delicious and the thin crust ensured the tastes weren’t overpowered by too much dough. Next time I’ll be trying the Bucatini with basil pesto as this came highly recommended by our server. To wrap things up I enjoyed an Aperol Spritz, a cocktail you’ll only find in truly Italian spots. This synthetic-orange colored drink whets the appetite and can be found in every bar and café in Italy. I just visited this beautiful country last October and the spritz made me feel like I had returned. Magnifico!
We showed up without reservations and were originally told it would be an hour wait. We enjoyed drinks at a nearby bar and they conveniently texted us when the table was ready. My only semi-complaint was the unrealistic expectations the host set; we were quoted an hour and our table was ready in 15 minutes. However, having worked in a restaurant for 4.5 years I understand it’s fairly hard to accurately pinpoint waiting time so this wasn’t a very big deterrent. Our waiter was a knowledgeable and friendly young man who took the time to give suggestions and explain what the restaurant is known for, yet he wasn’t over-attentive throughout the meal. Our food came in a timely matter; fast enough so that we weren’t starving yet slow enough to know they took their time to make our dinner just right.
Spot on for the level of service and quality of food. We had two drinks, a starter and an 18” pizza (of which we took home about half), all for around $60.
All in all, Gioia knocked it out of the park for us. Relaxed and welcoming dining room, simple well-executed dishes and enjoyable, timely service. This spot makes you feel like a local and reminds you how special it is to live in such a rich gastronomic city. I will absolutely be going again!