Whats good here?
Quite simply, a taste of Italy.
The menu is in Italian, the ingredients are Italian, and the preparation is Italian. Mozzarella is made in-house each week as are desserts by a USC hotel and restaurant management student who spent a year in Florence, Italy, studying the art of Italian pastry making.
There are fresh gelatos, sorbettos, cannelloni and Italian apple cake. However, this is a pizzeria and the owner, of Italian descent, doesnt serve the standard American-interpretation of pizza. The dough for the crust is made locally and then doctored with special ingredients by the owner/chef George Kessler. The crust is thin and flavorful. Some of the herbs for the pizzas are grown in the restaurants courtyard herb garden.
Toppings are simple and fresh. For the Siciliana: mozzarella, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and oregano. For the Quattro Stagioni: mozzarella, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, house-made sauce, and the unique touch (optional) of a fried egg on top which blends with the cheese and provides a creamy, melt-in-your mouth texture.
There are also a few pasta dishes. Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with butter, egg, pancetta, red onion, Pecorino Romano cheese and cracked black pepper. Sometimes the pasta is made in-house.
How did Il Giorgione Pizzeria and Wine Bar get its start?
Kessler grew up in New Jersey steeped in Italian culture, food, and traditions on his mothers side. While at USC, he began studying Italian. His professor, with whom he has maintained contact, gave him the nickname Giorgione which means big George. Kessler studied Italian language, history, film and culture, and spent a summer in Urbino, Italy. He was hooked, says his wife, Monica, also an owner of the restaurant.
Kessler worked for many years in the hotel and restaurant industry, always wanting to own his own truly authentic Italian restaurant. Last year, the couple decided to take a chance.
They did some slight renovations to a building next to Diannes on Devine (which recently closed), established a menu, and opened in September. Kessler is the head chef. Monica, an accountant by trade, assists wherever needed and spends time educating customers about the menu and the wine.
What does the place look like?
In an older brick building with an awning entrance, sidewalk seating, an accessible side courtyard and windows that provide natural light, the setting is sophisticated yet casual. There is seating for 40 inside, as well as a 10-seat bar.
The front sidewalk space accommodates three tables next to a fountain, while the side courtyard holds six tables.
Who eats here?
We get a tremendous amount of business from Shandon residents, says Monica, but its a great date night place and families come on weekends.