If you read one of my favorite food blogs, Appetizers with Mike Dunne, you already are well aware that Gianni's on J Street is tossing pizza dough in the air.
Last night, my BFF in Sac and I went out (we were going to stay in and cook, but then decided since it was so nice outside, we would get out of the house). On the way over to pick her up, I noticed Gianni's was all lit up and full of people, and I remembered the Appetizers rundown was positive. That was enough criteria for us to give the place a try.
The first thing I noticed was that they have a nice wine list, a few meritages available on there (one by the glass, I believe). Along with appetizers like pancetta wrapped shrimp, there are about eight styles of pizza to choose from, one being a mushroom variety with black truffle. There is also a seafood and a pesto. We chose the onion pizza to split, and I ordered a side of grilled asparagus. She picked a side of creamy polenta. Even though we chose pizza to dine on, we were still served a plate of bread with a standard olive oil and balsamic dipping concoction. The bread is pretty standard (just ok) which is good because I was able to stay out of it while waiting on the main course. I am not able to do this at Tapa the World or at Aioli because their bread must be laced with something and I am a fool for foccacia.
Our pizza did take a seemingly long time to arrive, but I admit I was just impatient because I was staying out of the bread and I was hungry. I am estimating it was about 25-30 minutes. I ordered a side of marinara sauce in which to dip my pizza, as well as the asparagus. I often do this because there is never enough sauce to suit my needs anywhere I go, so I order the side ahead of time and then I am always sure to be saucy/happy. :)
In my opinion, the pizza crust was good. It was not heavy or greasy. It is hand-tossed thickness...thin with thicker and puffed edges. There were a few different kinds of onion atop the pizza we chose, even some scallion on the slices. The polenta was good, but I was satisfied in only tasting it. I did not feel the urge to spoon out a whole serving. The asparagus was delicious. The stalks were thick, and they carried the wonderful taste of grilled summer vegetables. Cooked perfectly and brushed with a bit of olive oil. One pizza and two sides is plenty of food, and the bill only came to about $35 (pre-tip), even with two glasses of wine. If one does not like pizza (or is not in the mood for pizza), there are many other options on the menu, such as salad and pasta. They have a full bar and several beers on tap, just as did the Black Pearl.
Our service was excellent, as our server was friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. Even one of the bussers could be described as very accomodating/helpful.
Here are a few photos of what went down (please excuse the dimness of the room, as I dare never use a flash--deer in headlights--on food).
In summary, I can say I already miss the Black Pearl, as it was one of my favorite restaurants in Sac. It had great hours, good food (seafood!), and a patio. However, as Gianni's Trattoria, the artist formerly known as Black Pearl is still a welcome dining option in midtown.