If you’re looking for your next go-to brunch spot that melds innovative flavor with the satisfaction of a wholesome meal, Geneva’s Gia Mia should earn a well-deserved spot on your list. With a cozy ambiance echoing the warmth of their expansive selection of wood-fired pizzas and shareable appetizers, Gia Mia is a step above the rest when it comes to food that comforts as well as it impresses.
Gia Mia’s strength lies in its simple, unassuming ambiance that still maintains the bright, vibrant feeling of the space. Earthy wood paneling on the walls and tables contrasts with the darker furniture and cream walls for a farmhouse-style interior. Paired with colorful accents such as potted plants, industrial string lights, and a red tiled wall, Gia Mia is familiar, yet classy — simple, yet charming.
The menu captures a similar range of both rustic and modern dishes — everything from handmade pastas to golden-browned crostinis. Salads and small plates are part of Gia Mia’s shareable concept and feature an impressive range of options to choose from. Entrees consist mainly of wood-fired pizzas and pastas, though don’t expect your traditional spaghetti and meatballs from the culinary genius brewing inside the kitchen.
Kicking off the appetizers is the Wild Mushroom Toast — grilled toast layered with fontina, boursin, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, and truffle oil. The dish comes out a bit messily presented, arranged on a wooden platter with an inviting array of microgreens, wild mushrooms, and boursin placed hastily atop charred bread. Beyond the visuals, the wafting aroma of this plate is truly incredible: floral notes of earthy truffle oil, pungent herbiness from fresh basil, and an umami punch from the mushrooms. Perfection on a plate.
The bread itself is crisped to golden-brown perfection, being springy and moist but still providing that satisfying bite. Both the fontina and boursin cheeses contribute this briny, salty base that brightens up the deeper, more funky flavor of the mushrooms. Notes of garlic, parsley, and basil dominate the dish. Finished with a drizzle of that heavenly truffle oil with sweeter — almost fruity — notes, this dish is a must-order for even mushroom skeptics.
Another dish that delivers big in terms of flavor is the Beet and Farro Salad — baby spinach, red beets, pistachios, and goat cheese tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. The beets are slightly caramelized from being roasted, drawing out this sweeter, richer flavor to offset their traditionally earthy astringence. The goat cheese constitutes an element of saltiness, while the pistachios offer a welcome break in texture. All tossed together in that silky smooth balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is just the right amount of zesty, sweet, and refreshing.
Other appetizers that deserve a spot on your brunch table — even more enjoyed when sharing in a larger group — include the Charred Cauliflower (tossed with olives, parmesan, and honey), the Arancini (fried risotto balls poached in a marinara sauce), and the Italian Farm Salad (featuring leafy greens, peppers, olives, and cauliflower in a tangy balsamic dressing).
Gia Mia finds its niche in locally-sourced ingredients that flourish into flavor-driven small plates to share. The bright, balanced appetizers are only the first look into the playful cuisine and ambiance that contribute to a meal that captures the comfort of good company like no other.
As we venture on towards the entrees, one dish from the pasta menu stands out: the Paccheri Vodka — giant rigatoni in a silky vodka sauce with garlic, chili flakes, and roasted tomatoes. Unlike some of the appetizers, this dish comes out looking like a true work of art. Flecks of basil and chili flakes superimposed on a canvas of velvety orange sauce is perhaps one of the greatest views you could ever ask for. And if the presentation is any indication, this dish is life-changing.
The pasta itself is textbook: al dente with that perfect balance between being toothy and pillowy. The giant rigatoni is just the perfect vessel to really cling onto that silky sauce with all its ridges. And when it comes to the sauce, that’s where this dish shines. The sauce is creamy and rich without being overbearing, with a subtle tang and sweetness to brighten it up. The basil and garlic perfume the sauce with this bright, herby aroma that balances well with the piquant heat from the chili flakes. In all, this is a simple Rigatoni alla Vodka that is anything but once you actually take a bite.
The hand-tossed Wild Mushroom Pizza is another signature dish that doesn’t disappoint — a thin-crust pie smothered in a cheesy garlic sauce and topped with wild mushrooms, red onions, and rosemary. If you’re a fan of New York pizza, this one is bound to be a hit. Thin and crispy, the crust is firm to the touch yet fluffy and airy inside.
The sauce hits all those savory, cheesy notes with prominent flavors of garlic and rosemary. The cheese selection at Gia Mia — as expected for a restaurant that prioritizes locally-sourced ingredients — is fresh and stretchy, adding to the novelty of eating a pizza this well-crafted. The mushroom flavor is a bit more subtle, but still adds this element of umami that makes the dish feel even more rich.
In its pursuit for locally-sourced ingredients and playfully-crafted, Italian-inspired plates, Gia Mia is a haven for effortlessly delicious farm-to-table fare. With a rustic ambiance fit for those celebratory brunches or intimate meals, there will always be a place for their wood-fired pizza and housemade pastas in the hearts of many.
Gia Mia is located at 13 North 3rd Street in Geneva. Learn more by calling 630-405-5544 or visiting https://www.giamiapizzabar.com/.
Aryav Bothra is a food critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl