Bread is the Surprise Star at Giuseppe’s Pizza

Pizza places are ubiquitous in New York, and Midtown is certainly no exception. So it’s easy to walk by a pizza joint on an almost daily basis without giving much thought to whether it’s a good place to eat or not. That’s what Giuseppe’s Pizza (Lex btw 39th+40th) was like to me until I finally felt compelled to try it out. I was glad I did.

The pizza at Giuseppe’s is pretty good compared with the other pizza places in the Midtown East area, but what really steals the show is the sandwiches. Like Midtown Lunch favorite Previti, Giuseppe’s uses fresh-baked bread seemingly made of pizza dough as a foundation, turning an otherwise okay-tasting chicken sandwich into something special.

There are a few sandwich options on their menu, but the chicken and broccoli rabe ($8) is what caught my stomach’s attention. It’s a simple sandwich, with grilled chicken breast, sautted broccoli rabe, and fresh mozzarella.

I’m normally not a grilled chicken fan, but this Giuseppe’s does it right. The chicken is simply seasoned and well cooked, with a smoky, charred flavor, like it’d been thrown on your backyard grill. The chicken sits on a substantial amount of broccoli rabe that’s been sauteed with garlic and isn’t at all bitter. Rounding out the sandwich is a thin slice of fresh mozzarella, adding just a hint of creamy freshness.

But it’s that bread that’s the real star of the sandwich. The top is slicked with olive oil and minced garlic. It’s also substantial enough to stand up to the oily broccoli rabe, the bottom soaked through in some areas but its integrity uncompromised.

I apologize for waxing poetic, but this was a surprisingly good sandwich from a place that doesn’t exactly stand out. Could it be better? Sure. The broccoli rabe could use some more garlic and is a tad underdone. The mozzarella could be fresher and there could be more of it. But for those flaws, there’s just something about the sandwich that kept me hungry for the next bite.

Considering how much I loved that sandwich, it’d be easy to forget about Giuseppe’s pizza, but it was surprisingly good as well. It’s a bit thicker than most New York slices, and has a more cheese, but the crust is crisp and has a good amount of char. It may not be Previti’s but it’s still pretty good.

In particular, I enjoyed the eggplant slice ($3.75). The eggplant itself was sliced thin and lightly fried, and ricotta cheese added a much-welcome creaminess to the crispy piece of pizza. It was a bit bland, but the creamy ricotta made up for it (I’m a sucker for ricotta on pizza). Still, it’s a filling slice that makes for a nice lunch when teamed with a plain slice or a few garlic knots.

Giuseppe’s Pizza is worth a shot for those in the Midtown East area, and I’d highly recommend the chicken and broccoli rabe sandwich. Some may scoff at an $8 price tag for a pizza parlor sandwich, and that’s fair enough, but for my money it’s worth each dollar.

Giuseppe’s Pizza, 341 Lexington Ave. (btw 39th+40th St.), 212-683-4721


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