Tony Gemignani, Webisode One
I love North Beach, the legendary Little Italy of San Francisco, where the beatniks ruled during my youth, Carol Doda launched a whole new kind of soul baring, and some of the best Italian restaurants and espresso cafes have ruled for decades (and now lots of great Chinese and pretty much something from every ethnicity). It was especially fun to return just after local boy, Tony Gemignani, opened Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in the shadow of the beautiful Sts. Peter and Paul Church (where, Tony points out in this webisode, not only was he married but also where, sixty some years earlier, Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe–North Beach has seen it all!!)
In this short, introductory webisode, Tony welcomes us and shows us the oven dedicated to making his World Championship Margherita pizza. In another section he begins making a Sicilian style pizza and gives us a quick briefing on San Marzano tomatoes, which he uses only on a few of the pizzas on his menu.
If you look closely you’ll see a quick shot of Audrey Pagnotta Sherman, who we last saw in my July blog as the head pizzaiola at 900 Degrees in New York City. At the time of this filming, Audrey was a student at Tony’s Pizza School and also his apprentice in training. In an upcoming video she tells us she eventually wants to open her own place in Boulder–bet she didn’t have any idea she’d soon be opening in the Big Apple instead.
That’s one of the best things about this Quest–we get to meet so many great people, some at the top of their game and some who will be the stars of the next generation. It can happen fast, but over the next few weeks we’ll be getting to know Tony pretty well, and we’re catching him as he’s about to become one of the biggest superstars in the pizza world, having first mastered the entertainment side as the unbeatable Acrobatic Dough Spinning champ, and now, the first non-Napoletano to win the World Margherita championship.
So, let’s meet Tony and dive into his world–there’s a lot more to come….
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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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Awesome webisode! Is there any way that Tony will share his thoughts about using different types of flours for different types of pizzas. Something I have never really considered before, since I always use KA bread flour. In search of making the perfect pizza at home, perhaps it is worth exploring the right flour blend to create the perfect Neapolitan like pizza at home.
Keep watching, as Tony does talk a bit about flour in some of the upcoming webisodes. If you were to look in the back of his restaurant you’d see a number of different types and brands. You’re right, blending to your own specifications is a valid approach, used by many pizzerias.
I can’t wait. I see on his website that he briefly mentions flours when he describes his classes for his pizza school. Very intriguing. He even has a 2 day “Home chef/non-professional” class. I wonder how advanced that is and whether he has a perfect blend for an oven that can only go to 550.
Great webisode! Too bad I just returned from San Francisco as Tony’s would have been great to try! Next time. I feel pretty lucky to have sampled a few slices of Delfina heaven while I was there though!
On another note, the 2 day home chef class that B-Ry mentioned is something that I would certainly travel for especially if it was tailored to home ovens.