The people of Cosenza rave about their legendary pizzaiolo and have proclaimed the Pizzeria da Gigi, located just outside of downtown Cosenza, as the best pizza south of Naples.
And I believed them.
See. I’ve eaten there before.
The pizza dough was soft and filling, the sauce prepared with fresh tomatoes, the toppings, generous and flavorful.
The lively dining room was bursting with the fulfilled voices of men, women and children gorging on fresh antipasto, homemade pizzas and savory desserts.
It was a good thing.
But then I returned.
After months of anticipation – not so much postponed for laziness, but rather for the holidays, traveling and B&B’ing – we made the hour voyage north to Cosenza and to the Pizzeria da Gigi.
We arrived at 8:55 PM and with two small groups ahead of us, were told it would be a 30-40 minute wait.
Thirty minutes passed, 45 minutes passed, 60 minutes passed … 95 minutes passed … .
The busy hostess – Gigi’s young daughter – finally greeted us, long after those two small groups had been seated and served, at least a dozen other groups of varying sizes had eaten and we were once again standing in the lobby with two other groups.
“Oops,” she said upon hearing our name repeated for the third time that night. “I must have skipped you. You will be next.”
A young waiter came to the door a few minutes later and said, “There is a table in there if you want it,” and walked away.
We entered the pizzeria and looked around. A different waiter waved us over and we were seated.
Another 25 minutes passed and exactly two hours after we arrived at Gigi’s, we placed an order.
Another 35 minutes later, our pizzas were served. One of the pizzas wasn’t what we ordered. However, that is neither here nor there as we eagerly accepted it for fear that our stomachs would melt into the vacant spaces between our ribs … .
Our Cosentino cousin, obviously embarrassed by his city’s showing, summed it up well, “Non ho parole … .” Or rather, “I’m speechless!”
The pizza was good, although the sour taste in my mouth from the lack of apology and the humiliation we felt at being the designated invisible-customers-of-the-day had left an aftertaste no Naples-style pizza could quench.
So do I think the pizza at Da Gigi is the best pizza south of Naples? Maybe. It is good pizza. But the service is just too much to digest and well, if they don’t want my euros, I’ll spend them with someone who does.
** I’ve noticed here in southern Italy there isn’t a strong emphasis on the customer experience. Many establishments seem to have a “take or leave it” mentality when it comes to serving their customers. Why do you think this is? Do you see this where you live? Do you think businesses like this will see the backlash in their sales or does quality count more than service in some instances?