At Trattoria San Giorgio, The Pizzas Are A Work Of Art
Photo courtesy Rebecca Baldridge.
By Don Rosendale
Until seven years ago, Joe Comizio [right] was a commodities broker on Wall Street, one of those guys you saw on TV in a white jacket waving scraps of paper and shouting orders. And then his skill was replaced by computers. He decided it was time for a career change.
“I come from a big Italian family,” he says, taking a moment from stoking the 900-degree, wood-fired oven in Trattoria San Giorgio in Millbrook. “Big Sunday dinners, the whole family. Traditional Italian cooking.”
And so, mid life, he decided to open his own restaurant. After a detour through a New York City culinary school and then stints as sous chef in well-known Manhattan Italian restaurants, Comizio is wearing a different kind of white jacket, that of a chef; he and his wife, Gordana, opened their trattoria in the heart of Millbrook almost exactly one year ago.
Wall Street’s loss is Millbrook’s gain.
I’ve been dining regularly at San Giorgio since the summer, savoring warm-weather fare such as gazpacho and Salad Caprese, but recently was joined by two Manhattan dwellers whose palate for Italian cuisine has been trained by those Manhattan places where $50 will get you a handful of rigatoni with shaved white truffles.
“Trattoria” is Italian for “little restaurant.” To be clear, while its wood-fired pizza oven is the eye-catcher at San Giorgio, it is a restaurant that just happens to bake special pizzas.
Fig pizza with gorgonzola cheese, speck, balsamic glaze and honey. Photo courtesy Trattoria San Giorgio.
What comes out of the oven, Comizio explains, are not just pizzas, but Neapolitan pizzas, which he says is a recognized dish made to exacting standards. They are, he promised (and delivered), a caliber far superior to what you get in the cardboard box — thinner, crispier and with more taste. Comizio says he views each one as he if were an artist “painting on a blank canvas.”
When I was there most recently, he handed me a pizza topped with pears and gorgonzola cheese. The sweetness of the pears and pungency of the cheese made for something… well, like I’d never had before. I recommend it.
When I arrived late, my guest tasters were at the bar, nibbling on the bar snack — flatbread topped with extra virgin olive oil and a secret blend of spices ($6).
Since Salad Caprese is out of season, I opted for the minestrone laden with fresh vegetables ($7) and then an appetizer as a main course, gamberi fra diavolo (large shrimp “hot as hell”). My guests first devoured spaghetti carbonera ($16) with some discussion of whether the bacon was authentic Italian pancetta or the American kind. (Gordona assured us it was indeed pancetta.) After that, it was pollo parmigiana, chicken in white wine sauce with melted parmesan cheese. For dessert, torta caprese — a traditional flourless chocolate cake with ground almonds and dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Torta Caprese. Photo courtesy Trattoria San Giorgio.
The trattoria has a small but good wine list, mostly Italian and reasonably priced. My guests had started at the bar with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and stayed with it through dinner. I had a Tuscan blend I’d never seen before, a Centino Bianco, crisp and tasting of — in a happy coincidence — the pears on our pear and gorgonzola torte. The bill for three with tax and tip was $150 and change.
Comizio says he found the site for the restaurant by happenstance. He’d been negotiating for a restaurant in Orange County which fell through, and he needed to “just take a drive.” His path took him into Millbrook, where he spotted a vacant site and immediately knew it was the place for his restaurant. He and Gordana sold their home and moved to the Millbrook village, just a short walk from the trattoria.
With its 46 interior seats (and another two dozen on an outside terrace in cooperative weather), Trattoria San Giorgio is full almost every night. It’ll be a one-year anniversary to celebrate.
Trattoria San Giorgio
3279 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook, NY
Tue—Thu: 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 5 - 9 p.m.
Fri: 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 5 - 10 p.m.
Sat: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.