Experience: NY-Style Pizza Night on Hope Street

Francesco’s is a PVD neighborhood shop specializing in inventive pies

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The smell of freshly baked dough welcomed me as I approached Francesco’s Pizzeria on Hope Street, a neighborhood takeout and delivery shop not to be overlooked by New York-style pizza lovers. Though this isn’t the kind of spot you can sit down and eat, I was nonetheless greeted by friendly waitstaff. The owner’s niece, Mia, was ready at the counter with my General Tso’s pizza, BBQ wings, and Sweet Nutella Pizza – and we shared a moment over the song that was playing.

Though it opened fairly recently in October 2020, Francesco’s owner Frank Schiavone shares with me that their special dough recipe has been in his family for four generations and 110 years. The family-owned business is known for their pizza, but their menu also boasts a variety of sandwiches, salads, gelato, appetizers, and more.

With the smell of oven-hot pizza and wings in my car (a delight but also torture), I brought my order over to a friend’s house to share. We dove into Francesco’s famous General Tso’s Pizza first, marveling at the ingenuity of the combo: “Who would think to put General Tso’s chicken on a pizza?” It proved to be a perfect combination of sweet and savory. The cheese didn’t overpower the sweet drizzle of the General Tso’s sauce. The breaded chicken was juicy and tender. Fresh red peppers and scallions were the finishing touch of a satisfying pie.

What I really enjoyed was the crust and the dough: crispy and thin is Francesco’s specialty. “The secret to our pies is in the flour,” says Schiavone. “We use an imported flour from Italy, Caputo 00. I like to call it the ‘Lamborghini of flour’ as it’s very expensive and delicate.”

Next, I tried the BBQ chicken wings, which are pleasantly thick, meaty, and covered with BBQ sauce and caramelized onions. The flavor reminded me of teriyaki sauce with a hint of spice, sweet with a little bit of a kick. Like the chicken on the General Tso’s pizza, the wings were

tender and flavorful.

Finally, there was dessert: Sweet Nutella Pizza. The cookie pie is an inventive twist on “pizza” and comparable to a giant Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie baked to perfection with crispy sides and a gooey Nutella center. The whole thing is topped with fresh strawberries. This was a major crowd pleaser.

I’d recommend Francesco’s Pizzeria for anyone looking to elevate their takeout pizza night with pies that are both creative and use only the finest ingredients.

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