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Open for Business: Gino's Tries for Slice of Rye
Friday, 27 April 2012 15:17
By Jon Craig
There’s good news for pizza lovers. Gino Uli is back in town.
The lifelong pizza chef opened Gino’s Pizzeria this month at 382 Midland Avenue, in the spot formerly occupied by Greek Pizza Kitchen.
The 36-year-old Uli has made pizzas ever since he was 16, working in the family business at Giovanni’s on Arthur Avenue, once the heart of the Bronx's “Little Italy.” He also worked for the late Peter Camaj about 10 years ago at Mezzaluna, formerly on Elm Place.
Like other native New Yorkers who moved out-of-state only to return here because of the struggling national economy, Uli said he had an unmet craving for all Empire State food, particularly bagels, Chinese, and coffee.
Uli said it’s a myth that New York’s water is the secret ingredient to making world-class pizza and bread products. “I pipe my own water from the Bronx,” Uli often told his Florida customers. In reality, it’s the recipe and kneading method that New York-area chefs use that keeps the dough unique, Uli insists. He proved that in Florida, where his pizzeria was named “best in Volusia County” last year, which was announced shortly after he closed his Sunshine State shop in December 2011.
“They use tons of shortening in Florida,’’ Uli said. “All food is better in New York.”
Pizza making is a tradition in Uli’s family, so the Ardsley resident says he is undeterred by the fact there are five popular pizza shops in Rye.
The native New Yorker took his skills to Florida in 2004. A month after he opened the Bella Vita pizza shop, Hurricane Charlie knocked out power to Central Florida. Uli’s was the only pizza in the Orlando metropolitan area with electricity because his wife’s uncle was able to hook up a generator. But business starting tanking in 2009
due to the failing housing market, he said.
Thin-crust pizza is Uli’s specialty. The pizzeria also sells garlic knots, Jamaican beef patties, bruchetta, cannoli, calamari, calzones, pasta, stromboli, Sicilian slices, and subs.
Uli and his wife, Floria, have been busy, especially on weekends when “the phone rings off the hook,” and when children from Midland School stop by. Parents of two young children, they love the afternoon crowd. There are three benches out front, and a large-screen television facing three indoor booths.
Gino’s is open for business Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They offer full catering and free delivery. Call 967-0200.