Paulie Gee's, a wonderful new pizzeria in the Short North, is closely modeled on its celebrated progenitor from Brooklyn. But the local Paulie Gee's isn't an exact carbon copy of the famous New York original - some local twists enrich its wordplay-filled menu.

Paulie Gee's, a wonderful new pizzeria in the Short North, is closely modeled on its celebrated progenitor from Brooklyn. But the local Paulie Gee's isn't an exact carbon copy of the famous New York original - some local twists enrich its wordplay-filled menu.

For instance, there's a cocktail called "Columbus, by way of Brooklyn" ($12), which is shaken with Columbus-distilled OYO rye and modeled on another destination-named libation: the Manhattan. The nouveau drink is smooth, slightly sweet, fragrant with orange, and one of many reasons to applaud Paulie Gee's.

Similar to its Brooklyn predecessor, the restaurant is spare, rustic and chic. Also tasteful: lighting as low and inviting as the volume-level of a soundtrack that features brainy bands with a pronounced New York sensibility, such as LCD Soundsystem and the Velvet Underground.

What really stands out is wood. That element is prevalent in stout dining room tables, simple chairs, a handsome bar and the theatrical open kitchen - where logs are stacked to feed a large, dome-shaped oven.

This oven is serious business. Hand-built from bricks, it's produced by Stefano Ferrara Forni, a revered company based in Naples, Italy - pizza's hallowed ground.

Pies are made with the famed "flour of Naples" (Antimo Caputo) and bake at over 1000 degrees for only 90 seconds - while Paulie Gee's expert cooks constantly monitor the oven's temperature with an infrared thermometer. The results are outstanding: toasty, smoke-scented crusts that are thin and crisp, yet sturdy and elastic - and endowed with a much-sought-after "leopard-spotting" char on the puffy edges.

Instead of rushing to the main courses, though, let's limber up the old taste buds with Paulie Gee's alluring drinks and appetizers. Expect a solid selection of draft beers - several brewed locally - and a wine list that shames most pizzerias. Many of the interesting bottles are priced in the $30-and-under range, and about a dozen wines are available in affordable three-ounce pours ($3.50 to $6.75) as well as by the glass ($7 to $13).

Listed under "primi" (first courses), the East River Ferry ($10) is the rare surf-and-turf that successfully integrates meat (smoked brisket from Ray Ray's Hog Pit, a leading Columbus food truck) with seafood (attractively seared bay scallops). This is accomplished by incorporating chopped brisket into a rosemary-scented, bright, tangy and wholly addictive tomato marmalade that also flatters the scallops. Textural complexity, heft and contrast arrive via good toasted bread plus a little salad of local microgreens (from Little Eater in the North Market), apple sticks, radicchio and parsley. It's the kind of dish you'd expect from a fine-dining restaurant.

Ditto for the sublime mushroom risotto served with just-tender leaves of Brussels sprouts in a delicious (but not-crisp-enough) bowl molded from parmesan cheese (Bro-Mance, $10). I was also impressed with Mary's Boon ($8), a breakfast-riffing, hearty ensemble starring fingerling potatoes, a fried egg and shiitake mushrooms - all cooked in the oven - and enhanced by wilted spinach and a zingy bacon vinaigrette.

Paulie Gee's 15 or so pizzas (eat-in only, no substitutions) also feature great ingredients. My favorite? Whichever pie I happened to be eating.

There is the smoky, slightly sweet Ricotta Be Kidding Me ($16) with fennel-seeded Italian sausage, Canadian bacon and "post-oven" ricotta cheese piped-on like tiny soft-serve ice cream swirls. Going Back to Cauli ($18) is a meatless marvel with pine nuts, a creamy veggie-and-cheese puree and roasted cauliflower livened by thyme, smoked paprika oil and Castelvetrano olives.

Two dynamic and fantastic pizzas will heat you up, but gently: the Summer of George ($18), starring delicious homemade chorizo, pickled onions and queso fresco, and the groundbreaking Hellboy ($17), made with lively crushed tomatoes, earthy sopressata and artisanal spiced honey (it works).

I can't wait to try my next favorite pie.