Gionino's Pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

FIRST LOOK: The pizza isn’t the only star at Dayton’s first Gionino’s Pizzeria

One of Northeast Ohio’s favorite pizza restaurants has finally arrived in Dayton, and we tasted what it was all about. 

Gionino’s opened its doors for the first time this week on Tuesday, May 21, and has been operating under a soft opening status ever since. The pizzeria is gearing up for its grand opening celebration happening this Saturday, May 25 from noon until 10 p.m. 

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: JUST IN: Dayton’s first Gionino’s Pizzeria to open today

 

Located inside a former Dayton tire shop at 1528 E. Third St., Gionino’s is owned by Tony Clark, who is also owner of DK Effect directly next to the new pizzeria. Customers at DK Effect will be able to order anything from Gionino’s menu and have their food brought directly to them inside the bar arcade gaming bar. 

GRAND OPENING DEALS

Clark said the grand opening party will be happening at both Gionino’s and DK Effect, with Fifth Street Brewpub’s special “King Basil w/ Pizza” brew featured at the bar arcade, free pinball all day, 50 cents off any pint at DK Effect to anyone eating Gionino’s food, pizza deals like a large one item pizzas priced at $11.95 or any medium specialty pizza for $11 (except for The Best and The Steak pizzas). 

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WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

We stuffed ourselves with a good sampling of Gionino’s menu before the masses. Many Jo-Jo dips, crisped-cheese bites and napkins later, our expectations were met. Here’s what we tried:

(You can see the entire Gionino’s menu here.) 

Gionino's Pizzeria makes a 'Caprese pizza' with signature pizza sauce on a thin crust with fresh mozzerella and provolone cheese, spinach, basin , tomatoes and parmesan cheese. The pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

First, an important thing to remember before your first Gionino’s experience is that the menu is just getting started with pizzas. But we will start there. Gionino's Pizzeria makes a Caprese pizza with its signature pizza sauce on a thin crust with fresh mozzarella and provolone cheese, spinach, basil, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. The “thin” crust is just crispy and sturdy enough to hold the thick and gooey wedges of mozzarella atop the pie.

While the Caprese pizza comes on Gionino’s thin crust, almost all of the other pizzas come on a crust that is neither thin or deep-dish, but a more traditional “middle of the road” crust. 

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Gionino's Pizzeria serves 'Italiano Fried Chicken' with 'Jo-Jo's'. The pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Promised by Gionino’s to arrive in-store fresh, local and never frozen, “Italiano Fried Chicken” is a hot spot on the menu. The pizzeria is adamant that the fried chicken is no “add-on” or “after-thought” meant to simply expand the menu. The chicken is a core part of the menu and comes with a certain flavorful zing in the batter that distinguishes it from your average fried chicken. 

Which brings us to the Jo-Jo’s. 

Gionino's Pizzeria serves 'Jo-Jo's', deep fried potato wedges fried in the same breading as the pizzeria's fried chicken. The pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The deep fried potato wedges are served piping hot and deep fried in the same golden crisped batter as the Italiano Fried Chicken. They’re large and delicious. A great quality of the Jo-Jo’s is the amount of potato encrusted in the fried batter. They are delightful plain, dipped in ketchup or even dipped in ranch. The crispy outside might be the best part. There is a perfect balance between the potato itself and the batter. 

The 'deluxe sub' made with ham, salami, pepperoni, cheese, lettuce, tomatoe and Italian dressing is on the menu at Gionino's Pizzeria. The store opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The subs come toasted. Always. The Deluxe Sub, pictured above, is made with ham, salami, pepperoni, cheese, lettuce, tomato and Italian dressing. Gionino’s has nine permanent subs on the menu, with monthly specials featuring unique subs not typically found at a pizzeria. 

Holding my first Gionino’s sub, I learned Gionino’s portions are never stingy. 

And the pizza-makers we watched make a “Pepperoni Piccolo” were also heavy-handed on the pepperoni distribution. This was consistent with most ingredients Gionino’s cooks incorporated into whatever pizza they were making. 

Gionino's Pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. LISA POWELL / STAFF

And finally, maybe the underdog but Most Valuable Side-Player on the menu — the Gionino Bread. 

Gionino's Pizzeria opened its first Dayton location at 1528 E. Third St. The franchise, owned by Tony Clark, has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. Gionino bread with a side of red sauce is a popular menu item. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Garlic butter, spices, provolone and Parmesan cheese with a side of red sauce. What got us here was that the entire perimeter of the bread was caked in a crust, semi-burnt cheese that was too addicting to put down. This means there is no fighting over the cheesy edge pieces. It’s a truly perfect way to start, or end, a Gionino’s experience. 

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Gionino’s Pizzeria Dayton 

WHEN: (Grand Opening)  noon- 10 p.m. Saturday, May 25 

WHERE: Gionino’s, 1528 E. Third St., Dayton 

INFO: Website 

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