This story is about Giovanni’s NY Pizza. But really, that’s a bit of a misnomer, at least in my case. I haven’t tried the pizza at the Leesburg strip mall restaurant. I will probably never try the pizza at Giovanni’s. That’s because I’m seriously hung up on the chicken parmigiana.
This is no mean feat. I’m almost unfairly persnickety when it comes to my favorite comfort food. I believe this is the fault of the particular geography into which I was born. I’m from the pizza-permeated New York City suburbs, where practically every block has a pie shop that turns out a five-star chicken parm. But with great effort seeking only the best comes great rewards.
I had a good feeling from the moment I first stepped into Giovanni’s. It’s been in Leesburg since 1982 and it shows. Its mural of the Colosseum on one wall and columns surrounding the booths could easily have been present when I was visiting pizzerias as a kid in the ’80s.
The best time to visit Giovanni’s is at lunch, when portions are a bit smaller (but still gargantuan), as are the prices. At lunchtime, the chicken parm is $9.50. Any sensible person would be able to make two meals of it, but when it comes to chicken parm, I am totally devoid of sense.
The first secret to the success of the dish at Giovanni’s is the sylphlike chicken breast itself, pounded so thin that it’s really more of a vessel for cheese, sauce and crispy breading than part of a former animal. That sauce is also key—tangy, a tiny bit sweet and blooming with garlic. The whole thing is bound with a thick layer of mozzarella that’s just bubbly and brown enough to taste of caramelization. There’s enough of it to braid in with the al dente spaghetti on the side, too.
It’s a taste of my childhood, yes. But more importantly, Giovanni’s provides me with a taste of my future, living in and loving NoVA.// 520 E. Market St., Leesburg
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