Hands down the most interesting pizza concept in the nation, if not the best. This place has taken the dining-savvy Golden Gate City by storm. Co-owner and operator Tony Gemignani may well be the pizza industry’s brightest star. His accomplishments are many: cookbook author, children’s book author, World Pizza Champions team founder, award-winning pizza maker. But his biggest win has been Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, an ambitious endeavor, to say the least.
The shop offers a variety of different pizza styles thanks to the massive up-front investment Gemignani and his partners made in installing four distinct types of pizza ovens. Want an authentic Neapolitan pizza? No problem — Tony’s has a wood burner on display for that. Do you prefer the thicker Sicilian, a classic American slice pie or the more traditional Italian style? No sweat.
“We actually have to have an expediter to keep everything in order because we have so many oven types, and each pizza style uses a specific flour in its dough recipe,” says Gemignani. “It’s pretty involved. Our kitchen gets a little crazy at times. But the reception we’ve received has been overwhelming. We’ve been fortunate to get a lot of really good reviews, and getting Zagat-rated really helped us out too.”
What to order: All of the pizzas are great, but there are two you simply should not miss: The Margherita, limited to 73 per day (and the cause of early lines when the store opens), won the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, in 2007. Then there’s the Burratina di Margherita, topped with heirloom tomatoes tossed with fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Burrata cheese, imported from Italy and rare in the United States because of its cost and short shelf life, gives this pizza a creamy, smooth finish that’s sublime.
Owner Steve Greenberg has built a regular clientele that apparently likes to keep this treasure a secret, because Steve’s remains relatively obscure. While South Florida has been blessed with a much-needed explosion of serviceable pizzerias in the past decade, Steve’s is chief among the notable entries.
What to order: The menu provides plenty of reasons to stop in, but the BBQ Chicken Pizza is the most compelling. As those who know barbecue say, the secret’s in the sauce. At Steve’s, that’s where the BBQ Chicken pie takes flight into pizza heaven. Sweet and tangy, the sauce — amply applied — works in concert with the chicken, mozzarella, smoked Gouda, red onion and cilantro to elevate this California creation to noteworthy status.
Try to find another pizzaiolo more passionate about his craft than Spacca Napoli owner Jonathan Goldsmith. Go ahead. We dare you.
During our recent visit to his -establishment in the Windy City’s Ravenswood neighborhood, Goldsmith kept us waiting as he phoned his flour supplier in Italy. His question was so technical, so minute to the untrained eye that the miller on the other end of the line wasn’t quite sure how to answer it in layman’s terms. But Goldsmith is a perfectionist, and he wasn’t ending the call until he had an answer and understood it inside and out.
We’re glad he got the information he was looking for, because once he hit the kitchen he dazzled us for hours. Nothing he served was less than stellar.
What to order: The Margherita is the best way to do Neapolitan pizza. Want something more? Try the Funghi e Salciccia: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, mushrooms, Italian sausage and olive oil. For a white-pizza alternative, go with the Prosciutto e Rucola: Provola, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, Parmesan and olive oil.
ZACHARY’S CHICAGO PIZZA, Oakland, Calif.
The Bay Area isn’t short of dining legends, but no pizza trip is complete without downing the deep-dish at Zachary’s. In the land of gourmet, anything-goes pizza, Zachary’s pays homage to the great pies that put Chicago on the map — and it dares to exceed them at their own game.
Show up hungry — really hungry — because this style of pizza is as hearty as it gets. It’s thick and drowning in cheese, while the sauce is bold and seasoned just right.
What to order: While Zachary’s also serves thin-crust pizzas, opt for the stuffed. Order one with sausage, spinach and garlic for an unparalleled flavor explosion.