Pizzas that are worth the drive

by Eric Ginsburg

When somebody tells you that you’ve never been to the best pizza place in Triad, you don’t ignore them. That’s exactly what I did though, for over a year, perceiving the trek to Summerfield as too out of the way. We overlooked Mama Ginna’s for our pizza survey cover last fall, and so with two friends in tow, I set out to top off (terrible pun intended) my Sunday evening.

The 15-minute shot down Battleground Avenue from downtown Greensboro is a pleasant one after escaping the commercial sprawl, and it’s tempting to keep going, windows rolled down, and head to the Eden drive-in or to swim in the Mayo River. Maybe next time I’ll stop at Mama Ginna’s en route to such a day trip, but for now we had a singular focus.

The place isn’t exactly set up like they’re expecting visitors: there’s no menu on the wall or dining area. Still, Mama Ginna’s was seeing a lot more action than the vacant CVS nearby, where an employee starved for human contact seemed thrilled when my friend walked in to use the bathroom. We weren’t the only ones who came in to order, and a steady flow of delivery orders out the door continually teased our olfactory organs.

There’s something great about a pizza place that isn’t expecting you. Your order isn’t sitting in a display case for hours beforehand and reheated upon request. We were told it would be a 15-minute wait — a pretty serious understatement — but it’s our fault for not calling ahead and we didn’t really mind waiting.

A handful of tri-fold menus rested on the counter, each one including six pretty impressive coupon deals. Two large one-topping pizzas and a two-liter soda for $20. Two spaghettis, two salads and garlic bread for $14. A large one-topping pizza with 10 wings for $18. What is this place? We settled on another offer: a medium supreme pizza and a medium one-topping (mushroom, in our case) pizza for $20.

I broke a cardinal rule of food writing — if a pizza place is known for something or puts the name of the restaurant in an item, you get it. But “Ginna’s Special,” a pizza with bacon, pepperoni, ham, beef and sausage just sounded too overwhelming, especially considering I was with a friend who doesn’t eat meat and another who’s recentlyrecovering vegetarian. The supreme, which was slathered in peppers, mushrooms and onions with generous helpings of pepperoni and sausage, would have to do.

Eager to eat, unwilling to drive home first and with no tables in sight, we traipsed down a slope into a small open field next to the strip. Next time we’ll bring a picnic blanket — a horde of ants that was more interested in my notepad than the pizza rapidly emerged from the grass.

This pizza was no joke. It was so hot at first that we had to wait a minute for it to cool, and pool of grease initially congregated at the center of the pizza. Once we bit in though… I’d be surprised if the tomato sauce wasn’t made regularly in-house — it’s freshness and basil undertones were impressive and flavorful. The supreme pizza was stocked with veggies and generous helpings of meat and cheese. I swear part of the crust was so doughy and fresh that it tasted almost like a soft pretzel. What can I say? My mouth was in love.

Even after stuffing my face with five slices, I found myself wishing there were leftovers a few hours later, not because I wasn’t stuffed, but it was just that good. I found myself rereading the menu I grabbed, musing about the thick Sicilian-style pies and daydreaming about the chicken bruschetta pizza. I’m not quite ready to name a pizza champion of the Triad — it just feels too subjective — but Mama Ginna’s is a serious contender. Maybe some day I’ll feel up to the challenge of the meat-packed special, but for now I’ll have to settle for the faint smell emanating from greasy fingerprint stains on my notebook.


Mama Ginna’s; 4549 Highway 220 North, Summerfield; 336.643.7779; Delivery or take out