Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 30, 2024

There’s pizza you eat with a fork and knife, pizza you guzzle down off oil seeped paper plates, pizza you ravage when you’re drunk, and pizza you eat cold when you’re hungover the morning after. There’s horrible pizza, mediocre pizza, good pizza, and cathartic, life-altering pizza. And in Baltimore, there’s (soon to be) Paulie Gee’s pizza.

Owner and pizzaiolo Paul Giannone, the man behind Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s famous Paulie Gee’s, is opening a location in Hampden with Baltimore local Pizzablogger (real name Kelly Beckham) this spring. Hopefully. Paulie Gee’s Hampden was estimated to open in 2013, but after facing a few obstacles, it was forced to push its opening date into 2014.

In February 2013, the two custom-built, wood-fired Stefano Ferrara ovens (going for about $25,000 each) were damaged on their voyage from Naples to Baltimore. Ferrara flew to Baltimore himself to repair the damage to the ovens. In May, the Hampden Community Council raised concerns about sufficient parking for the new restaurant. These setbacks, along with a few other kinks, further impacted the estimated opening date. Now well into spring and approaching summer, Paulie Gee’s Hampden’s website still reads, “A Hampden Pizza Joint. Coming Early 2014.”

Kelly Beckham started Pizzablogger in April 2009, and in November 2012, he signed the lease on the building of former Hampden Republican Club, the location for Paulie Gee’s Hampden. Although Giannone and Beckham are partners, Giannone said in an interview with Slice that Paulie Gee’s Hampden is “Kelly’s restaurant.” His statement is probably based on the fact that Beckham manages the construction, interactions with the Hampden community, and the bulk of the work that goes into opening a new restaurant.

The Hampden establishment will be the first franchise of Paulie Gee’s, and the menu will be a combination of successful pizzas from the Greenpoint location and some of Beckham’s very own creations.

The menu on the website consists of salads and soups, Neapolitan-style pizza and vegan pizza, and dessert. The pizza menu lists Paulie Gee’s classics like the Greenpointer (fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano) alongside Beckham’s pies, such as the Hampden Comes Alive (fresh mozzarella, italian tomatoes, Percorino Romano, olive oil, fresh basil, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Aleppo chiles, and Calabrian chiles and oil).

Paulie Gee’s made it to #19 on Eater’s “The 38 Essential Pizzerias Across America” this past March and has made numerous best pizza lists on Slice. The computer programmer turned world famous pizza craftsman didn’t make his first pizza until 2007; however, Giannone’s determination to create a delicious product, focusing on every element from the flour to the oven, has made him one of the most eminent names in the pizza world today.

Giannone plans to expand his pizzerias to at least seven more cities. Like Paulie Gee’s Hampden, Giannone plans to open up a pizzeria in each city with a local partner. Adam Kuban, the founder of Slice, is Giannone’s first partner in the Paulie Gee’s empire expansion, and will be working on opening a space in Portland.

When it opens, Paulie Gee’s Hampden will serve some of the best pizza in Baltimore. Although operating two giant, wood-fired ovens simultaneously to try and feed an anxious city will be difficult, if the pizza is as good as it is in Greenpoint, it will be worth it. With an oven made from clay from the Sorrento region of Italy, fresh, housemade cheeses, and a meticulously tested dough recipe, Paulie Gee’s Hampden will hopefully create its own delicious category of pizza.

 


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