A few weekends ago, I went to war with a pizza—and lost. Although my pride and stomach were hurting, seeing as I had probably consumed about a month’s worth of calories, I was happy, because this was no ordinary pizza. The Sicilian-styled gargantuan, dubbed the Fratellanza, had everything I could ever dream of: thick crust, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, oregano and the straw that broke my taste buds’ back, fresh Italian sausage. That’s amore. While this celebration of spicy meat might not appeal to everyone, it is just one of many pizzas made by the renowned San Francisco pizzeria, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.
The inspiration behind this little-known gem rests with its founder, Tony Gemignani. Spending the better part of 21 years perfecting his pies, Gemignani has a long list of pizza bona fides, being named, among others things, eight-time World Champion Pizza Acrobat, World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples in 2007 and most recently, Best of the Best World Champion/Master Pizza Maker at the 2012 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. Tony’s draws heavily on Gemignani’s expertise, offering a number of different regional pizzas from across the United States and Italy, each cooked to perfection using imported regional ingredients in one of seven different ovens. The combinations range from plain to exotic, meat-laden to gluten-free. There is something for everyone.
“Our restaurant speaks for itself in that we have seven different ovens and a number of specialty pizzas on the menu,” says Kelly Anderson, special events coordinator and office manager at the restaurant. “We try to give our guests a true representation of different regions and, in order to do so, get authentic ingredients and cookware shipped to us regularly.”
In terms of meeting space, the restaurant can host groups of up to 90 for a reception and 60 for dinner every Monday and Tuesday. While simply eating at Tony’s is a special treat, the restaurant’s team-building options are not to be missed. The exercises usually involve a competition in which attendees are taught about the components of dough and how to prepare it, and then how to build a pizza, or how to make a specific cocktail. After each group is finished, they must try to sell their products to the staff, who judge them based on selling points and the quality of their creations.
“We hosted a really fun holiday party for the Michael Mina Restaurant group in December. The attendees went through the different competitions, learned a lot and had a blast. Everyone left with a smile on their face,” reminisces Anderson.
If you’re hosting an event in San Francisco, or just looking for a great place to get a quality pizza, drop by Tony’s. The pizzas are second to none and its North Beach location, across from beautiful Washington Square, close to numerous gelato shops and a short ride from downtown hotels, will have attendees singing “amore.”