I love working in downtown Buffalo, right on Main St. in the heart of the theater district. It makes for great walks when I need a break, plus there’s a lot of solid restaurants in this area, even beyond pizza.
A coworker of mine had mentioned that she loved this pizza place called Gino’s and Joe’s in Mainplace Mall’s food court, which seems to be declining in foot traffic and businesses, but is somehow hanging onto a few food stands still.
In going to visit the food court Gino and Joe’s in the upper level, we entered the mall on the first floor through another pizza place. This place was oddly enough also called Gino and Joe’s…
Safe to say I was totally shook. How could there be two pizza places with the SAME name in the SAME building while advertising and serving the SAME style of pizza. It just seemed so odd.
Apparently, neither Gino and Joe’s have an affiliation with one another, so perhaps they are competitors.
Nonetheless, I became totally invested in this happenstance. I had to determine which was the better Gino and Joe’s.
Food Court Gino & Joe’s
Selection: There were a decent amount of options for different pies. The sauce didn’t really look like a quality sauce to me, so I went with one slice of Buffalo chicken pizza. I have to say, unfortunately, these slices didn’t look very good at all.
Atmosphere: We’re working with your typical food court setup here, so customers moved through the line and placed their order. It was a little disorganized waiting for your slice while they warmed it up, paying, waiting off to the side, and people trying to figure out which slice is who’s when it’s heated and ready to go.
Cheese: For not looking very good at first, the cheese was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too gooey, overly milky, or grossly greasy. I scarfed this slice down so quick and was ready for another.
Dough: I have to say, this was not NY-style pizza as branded. It was a thin-to-medium size crust and relatively heavier. There wasn’t a crunch in the crust and remained pretty fluffy. However, the doughiness complemented the cheese and buffalo-style toppings well for this type of pie!
Toppings: The taste really was the best part, considering it didn’t look very appetizing. This was a great Buffalo chicken pizza, with a good amount of Buffalo sauce that was perfectly balanced with blue cheese.
Experience: I ate this slice relatively quick, so it wasn’t terribly hard to eat. However it definitely was a little heavier given the thicker crust and weight of the cheese, so it wasn’t your typical one-handing a NY-Style slice on-the-go situation. There were definitely two hands involved and wiping my hands or mouth with a napkin every few bites!
Gino & Joe’s First Floor
Selection: This Gino and Joe’s had WAY more options to choose from. For consistency purposes, I went with Buffalo Chicken, but I really wanted a slice of cheese pizza or pepperoni and sausage!
Atmosphere: You know a restaurant or take-out place is doing something right when the employees and customer’s aren’t stressed yet there’s a full line out the door. This place had the most efficient lunch order and pick-up system I’ve seen in a while. They were cranking through people ordering, paying, reheating, and handing off slices to-go. I was thoroughly impressed with how little of time we waited and how organized it was.
Cheese: I have to say I liked the taste of the food court Gino and Joe’s cheese better, but I think it’s because this cheese seemed to go better with a red sauce, which I unfortunately did not have.
Dough: THIS is NY-style pizza at it’s finest in the Buffalo area! It was crunchy and crisp on the bottom of the crust, but still soft and easy to chew on the top. You can just tell the difference when it’s quality dough. A mixture of the warmth, simple tear in the bread, and strong flavor. That is what this pizza possessed!
Toppings: Considering this establishment seemed more like a traditional Italian NY-style, pizza place, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that I don’t think Buffalo chicken pizza is their specialty. My slice was mostly cheese and dough. There was pretty much no Buffalo sauce. The other specialty pizza toppings here though looked far better quality compared to the food court Gino and Joe’s still.
Experience: This pizza was so easy to handle that I could easily double-fit these slices walking down Main St., gladly. That’s what I like best about NY-Style pizza. It’s simple eating, it’s never terribly messy, it’s a quick bite on-the-go, and it’s damn good.
So, where would I go back?
The only thing I liked about Food Court Gino and Joe’s was their Buffalo Chicken Pizza in particular, while everything else was a turn-off, from the food court atmosphere to the disorganization, to the other styles of pizzas sitting there too.
I will definitely be going back to First Floor Gino and Joe’s for two main reasons:
1. Variety. You can have just about any pizza and they all look amazing. And they’re thin, so you can, and should, get multiple kinds at once. No questions asked.
2. Easy eatin’. For someone who’s on the go a lot during the workday and is around other’s in a professional setting, I am always conscious of being a clean eater. This pizza can be handled well when eating and doesn’t make much of a mess! Adulting for the win on a budget.
I’m still perplexed by the fact that there are two Gino and Joe’s inches apart from each other in Mainplace Mall and fighting for the title as the better dynamic duo. Only in Buffalo.
What do you think? Who’s the better Gino and Joe?
Pizza & love,