Pick-Up Artist: Gatto's Pizza

  • Rebecca Zimmer photo
  • Rebecca Zimmer photo
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From the Pick-Up Artist: Gatto's Pizza edition
I've gotta admit, I take Gatto's for granted. I mean, I've been nonchalantly sucking back deeply satisfying pizzas from that dinky Clintonville shop for a long time now, but only recently did I realize I've never actually written about it. How could that be?

That's what I was thinking sorta late the other evening when I went in to pick up a pie and - distracted bonehead that I am - forgot Gatto's only accepted cash. As I was lamely waving a debit card with a hapless, clueless and hungry expression, the guy behind the counter reassuringly smiled and said, "You're from the neighborhood, just bring the money by sometime over the weekend." Who else would do that?

When I got home and began ravenously ripping into the 'za, my unfathomable neglect of ink space for this little gem of a place finally occurred to me. What was I (not) thinking?

I suppose it's not like Gatto's really needs me to write about it to survive. I mean this proudly traditional, pick-up and delivery-oriented old-schooler - which is the very epitome of a family-run and locally owned small business - has been working hard out of the same street-front space at High and Kelso since 1952. I'd wager little has changed since then.

In other words, Gatto's continues to whip up their own scratch-made dough, family-recipe sauce, handmade sausage and great real-deal meatballs for their happy, supportive and - don't forget - cash-bearing neighbors. Here's what you can expect.

Pizza ($11.75 for 14-inch half pepperoni, half sausage):A wonderfully yeasty, thin and eminently crispy - but not at all crackery - crust holds judiciously applied sauce (rich and tangy), pepperoni (spicy, smoky, properly greasy) and sausage (actually porky, black peppery, sliced into crisp sheets) and good cheese.

Italian Sub ($5): Done right, on a toasty seeded bun loaded with cheese and good deli ham, salami and pepperoni enlivened by a bright vinaigrette

Italian Salad ($3.50/pint, $5/quart): Designed for people who don't really like salads - i.e., a relic from an earlier era. Crisp iceberg gets jacked up with mushrooms (canned, like back in the day), green and black olives plus tomatoes, banana peppers, pepperoni, lots of shredded cheese and that nice red wine vinaigrette. It's actually rather satisfying in a super-retro fashion.

Meatballs: Mamma mia, these baseball-sized things sono delizioso! They're garlicky, pliable, a little herby and wholly terrific. They're good on a sub ($5), with the spaghetti ($7, a massive serving, but don't expect al dente pasta) or on their own ($1.50 each).

Boxed & bagged

Gatto's Pizza's carryout performance

Percentage of my orders correct: 100

Time promised: 20-25 minutes

Time ready: 23 minutes

Good to go?: Gatto's pizza comes properly packaged in sturdy cardboard boxes; subs are wrapped in waxed paper and foil; the enormous spaghetti dinner was (barely) contained in a foil bowl with crimped lid. All items were just-cooked hot when I arrived for pick-up, and held their heat and integrity through the chilly ride home.