Paulie Gee’s Brings ‘Old School’ to a New Miami
We say it all the time, and we know it won’t stop anytime soon, but our neighborhood is growing at the same pace as the surrounding city–each cultural pillar gathering strength in this current creative evolution. Local artists in all forms of art, from music to food, are finding solace in support long-time needed, while powerhouses from up north have flocked down to sit at the table and have what we’re having. Case in point: Paulie Gee’s. It may be a name new to the food scene down here, but back in Greenpoint it has been considered a title befitting a Corleone for years. After months of teasing the streets with “coming soon” signs at what was once the China Palace restaurant, Paulie Gee’s has finally opened, proving that you just can’t go wrong with the classics.
In such a short amount of time (a week, to be exact), Paulie Gee’s has already carved a strong place within the local community, eagerly welcoming collaborations at every turn. Nearly every aspect of the Brooklyn-favorite’s Miami outpost has been aided or touched by a local partnership, making you feel at home instantaneously. Stunning handmade wooden furniture by Scotty Wonders greet you in every room, the same hands who helped build the countertops and natural accents of beloved spots like Zak the Baker, Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice Cream, and the recent neighborhood addition: Rail 71 Café. They’ve collaborated with Azucar Ice Cream for a dessert which we will later describe in pleasurable detail, and a good amount of ingredients are locally-sourced. A majority of the PGM staff is Miami-bred, some hired on the spot thanks to their eagerness to learn. Even the adjacent Cross Fit gym owner’s dad can be found teaching newcomers how to make a pie–it’s all in the family here.
Owner, Jason Weisberg may have encountered a few road blocks throughout the process, but all of the wonderful things you love about the outpost seemed to have fallen into place serendipitously. For one, he has been sensitive to the necessity for preservation in an era of urban development, keeping the original design and skeleton of the building in tact. Respecting the building’s history, Weisberg cheekily pays tribute to the China Palace with soup served in wonton bowls, salads on china, and its asian-themed columns welcoming your entrance. Second, the vibrant mural on the side was created simply because PGM happens to have a pair of exceptionally talented artists as neighbors: Jason D’Aquino and his wife, Katie B. The two had always loved the original art deco building and when discovering that it would soon have a new tenant, they jumped on board.
The mural acts as a perfect connection between the original Pauli Gee’s location and its Miami brand, drawing inspiration from classic Miami manhole covers and the original frieze on the now white-washed H&M on Lincoln Road. The piece evokes Miami’s past through retro lines and patterns but emphasizes that Paulie Gee’s and Miami have a lot more in common than just location alone. Sun in the logo and sun all year around, blue in the logo and ocean at our feet, pink in the logo and a nod to Miami Vice and the city’s infamous 80s period. The list goes on and it all makes sense. The mural embodies both the city and the pizza parlor so well that the couple was invited to add their mark to the interiors, creating original pieces that can now be seen dotting the walls. The mix of nostalgic knick knacks, pop culture finds, and old school arcade games are a perfect match for the original China Palace interior, Weisberg taking advantage of the design by creating a swooping and open pizza kitchen.
As a personal mix of classic rock and soul on the hi-fi invite you to sit down, you’ll find it hard to make a decision among the endless list of pies. For now, the menu is comprised of signature Paulie Gee’s originals, but Weisberg has plans to expand the palette to incorporate Miami’s talented culinary minds with a rotating pie designed by a different local chef every month. For a refreshing start to your meal, we suggest snagging the Watermelon Soup, served simple–just the way we like it. From the greens, we had the Gates of Eden Salad, with seasonal leaves, house-candied pecans, gorgonzola, pears and more. But on to the pies. An absolute must-try is the Greenpointer, a not-so-simple sauceless pie with towering piles of fresh arugula and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Their twist on the Hawaiian in the Porkypineapple oozes with thinly-sliced speck and pickled pineapple. We heard talk of the Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me, marveling at the sight of freshly piped ricotta on an already jam-packed pie. And Weisberg himself suggests the Monte Cristo with its maple drizzle, gouda, and Canadian bacon as the best cold breakfast pizza on the list. For dessert: the famous Mike’s Hot Honey Sundae, with Azucar’s frozen cream, Paulie Gee’s homemade spicy honey, plus those house-candied pecans once again. For those who have a second stomach, we suggest the Nutella Pie, which really needs no further explanation.
There’s something about a project bred from passion that inspires you even before experiencing it first-hand. Jason Weisberg isn’t just the Miami branch of Paulie Gee’s’ owner, he’s a part of each dish on the menu. It’s not because he wants everything to be absolutely perfect that he dives into every task, it’s because each pie is an extension of who he is, of his very existence. Whether he’s fixing a candle to better light a framed picture of Paulie Gee on the shelves, personally thanking patrons as they leave happy and slightly heavier, or placing a pie in the oven himself, he’s everywhere at once and it’s an inspiration to behold. Authentic is the word that comes to mind when you meet Weisberg and see the fruits of his labor at the new Paulie Gee’s. You may enter a curious pizza-lover, but you’ll leave a long-time friend; we can promise you that.