#13 Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Regina)
With a love for pizza, little formal training, without finishing high school, with a career he has characterized as having "masqueraded as a computer geek," and a fear of becoming Shelley Levene from Glengarry Glen Ross, Paulie Giannone struck out into the unknown, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He ventured there before Girls, before the condos, in a time when the dream of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment a 10-minute walk from the subway to Manhattan on the Polish word-of-mouth, no-lease real estate wire still went for less than $2,000.
This backyard do-it-yourselfing pizza passionista put it all on the line and earned every kind word he’s gotten. Greenpoint isn’t much to look at, but Paulie Gee’s is a pizza lover’s home, a clean, rustic space that looks like a barn but puts out a pie to rival every Naples memory you’ve had or dreamed of having. There’s are some 19 pies, all great in their own right and featuring clever names and great topping combinations — In Ricotta Da Vita, Ricotta Be Kiddin’, and the Luca Brasi (no anchovies) — but when The Daily Meal checked in with the pizzeria, the Regina was the pie noted as the signature: mozzarella, tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, olive oil, and fresh basil. And panelists agreed that Paulie’s Regina well deserved a top spot among America’s 20 best pizzas.