September 10, 2007
A New Site with History

I went for the pizza, stayed for the cookie. Luigi's Slice, a branch of the landmark Luigi's Pizza Parlor along Stockton Boulevard, has opened in the MARRS building (for Midtown Arts, Retail, Restaurant Scene) along 20th Street between J and K in midtown Sacramento.

To judge by a wide slice of the pepperoni and sausage ($3.50), the pizza has traveled well from the original location to the new, but that shouldn't surprise anyone who has ordered takeout from Luigi's Pizza Parlor. (The midtown pizzas are baked at the new site, but it will take 53 years for the ovens to get as seasoned as the ovens along Stockton Boulevard.)

The midtown quarters are sleek and chic, but the standout design feature is a wall of handsomely displayed photos that trace the history of the Brida family from Italy to Sacramento. The only drawback to the display is the lack of information to identify the principals, a shortcoming the family is looking into correcting, says Linda Brida, the wife of Greg Brida, the son of Sergio Brida, who with his brother Celso has owned Luigi's since 1965.

A more subtle Sacramento connection to Sacramento's culinary history is on the counter near the cash register - jars of fresh cookies, including a delightfully spicy, complex and moist gingersnap ($1.25). They're from Joe Bickie's Baked Goods, but there is no Joe Bickie. That's the nom de plume of baker Amy Alfaro, the sister of Greta Garverick, who for years ran the popular Greta's Cafe in midtown. Garverick does catering these days, and Alfaro helps her out with desserts, for which Greta's Cafe was celebrated.

Luigi's Slice is the only outlet so far for Alfaro's cookies, which also include snickerdoodles, buttermilk and a flaxseed wheatgerm, as well as brownies. Alfaro's dream is to open a cookies-and-milk shop, and the way the midtown culinary scene is developing that would seem a distinct possibility. As for the name Joe Bickie, she says she came up with Joe for coffee and Bickie's for cookies. "I just like the mystery of it all," Alfaro says.

Luigi's Slice, 1050 20th St., is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday; (916) 447-1255.

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