There it is, right on one of the busiest streets in Burbank, California and yet up until recently it seemed to have almost vanished. But, when the original owner, George Rizzo, returned to George’s Pizzalolo located conveniently at 2202 N. Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank, California, I decided to drop in and was extremely pleased.
It is unpretentious yet warm and charming. The walls, as is appropriate to its Burbank location are covered with a wide variety of movie posters, some very old movie posters, giving it an even greater charm. There are only about a half dozen tables and a small counter/bar but it is comfortable and pleasant.
It became instantly clear that the operation of George’s Pizzaiolo is a family operation led by owner George Rizzo. This is so because at the time I arrived, shortly after the local schools had ended their day, the restaurant was occupied by children of various ages most if not all of them of the Rizzo family. In no way did their presence present any sort of distraction or discomfort. To the contrary, I found it to be yet another element of charm and true warmth.
I took my seat and began to peruse their surprisingly extensive menu. It became instantly clear that what they offered went well beyond pizza. To be sure their pizza menu is impressive, but the full menu is even far more impressive. The last time I had a pizza that was truly memorable was in 1978 while in San Remo, Italy and on this day I yearned for something other than pizza no matter how good it may have been, So I was very pleased when I saw eggplant parmigiana on the menu and that brought back memories of my first experience with that delightful dish, first experienced by me a very long time ago at a fabulous Italian restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park. It was so good it was simply unforgettable. So, what would it be like here at George’s Pizzaiolo in Burbank, California?
Before I would find out I was served a huge, delicious salad. It was very crisp and fresh and per my request they put the dressing on the side which, when I applied it sparingly, ignited a great taste. Along with the salad came four pieces of lightly toasted Italian bread. By personal choice I typically avoid any buttered bread but I had to try what was served and I was not disappointed.
Then came the entrée’ my eggplant parmigiana. It looked different then my previous favorite from Melrose Park, Illinois. That restaurant served large thick pieces of eggplant whereas what was set before me were about six relatively smaller pieces of eggplant smothered mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. Unexpected but much appreciated there was also a very generous serving of rigatoni filling the plate next to the eggplant. Okay eggplant first. It was spectacular; a total tongue pleaser. It wasn’t long before the rigatoni came into play and it too was very satisfying and unlike most Italian restaurants this rigatoni was actually properly prepared and it was absolutely al dente. Could this actually be Burbank, California? The taste and ambience was much closer to Naples than Burbank, but it was indeed Burbank with the added advantage of no jet lag. Best of all when taking into account the service, the abundance of food served and the quality the price was modest making the total experience even more pleasant.
So here then is my unequivocal recommendation. Hey Mambo, Mambo Italiano, Hey Go Go —-
To George’s Pizzaiolo, 2202 North Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank, California and enjoy some great Italian food. For their full menu, hours of operation and delivery options visit: georgespizzaiolo website.
Photos: Ron Irwin unless otherwise noted.
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