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Tony Gemignani’s Coney Island Pizza

Written By Brad English
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 Written Recipes

Perfect Sauce: Have Can. Add can opener…done!

As many of you know, Chris Bianco has joined forces with Rob DiNapoli of DiNapoli Specialty Foods.  They have come up with a new product that Chris had been nudging Rob to create for some time.  There has been a limited supply of their new Bianco DiNapoli Organic Tomatoes available at some select pizzerias and restaurants and we have been lucky enough to be “in the loop!”  I happen to be sitting on a small supply.  So, I recently decided to use them here at home and make some pizzas to play with that set the tomatoes up as the star.  Since we are running a series on Tony Gemignani and I know he’s one of the other lucky ones to have a supply of these tomatoes, I thought I would pick a few of his pizzas to re-make here at home.

Great sauce, spicy salted pork, spicy/sweet peppers – can you hear the music?

The first one I started with was his Coney Island Pizza.  This is one of his creations that features the Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes that are simply hand crushed and placed on the pie with a little added sea salt.  It also has a number of other ingredients that sing that siren song to me: hot peppers, spicy pork products, roasted yellow peppers, and a blend of cheeses.

I had some of our Signature Bruery Beer Dough on hand (hidden in my freezer) from our last filming event down at the Bruery, so I used that.  Following is the recipe and photos.

I could have stopped here – cheese covered in tomatoes and topped with Piccante Coppa

But, there’s a big “aha moment” I’d like to share.  As I was making this pizza, and setting up to make a few more afterward, my son Owen was circling the kitchen like a Great White waiting for the pizza to come out of the oven.  “Dad, when’s the pizza going to be ready?”  You all know how that goes.  I’m covered in flour, sauce, taking pictures, chopping vegetables, laying out the next set of ingredients, and I keep getting the occasional bump from my growing little Great White.  Anyway, I finished the first pizza, and he came in for his feeding, taking a slice and going to the table. 

My wife, was helping me, as I worked on the next pizza.  Out of nowhere

Not my most picturesque pizza, but this baby sang the right tune…

Owen says: “Dad — this sauce is awesome!”  I looked at Shanna, who knew that I was making all of these pizzas to play with Chris and Rob’s new tomatoes, but Owen (age 12) had no idea.  This really hit me.  The sauce was just the tomatoes processed through my fingers into a bowl.  That’s it.  I didn’t even add any sea salt, because I figured there was plenty of other things going on with the salted pork and peppers.  Maybe Rob and Chris got to Owen in a plot to make their sauce really stand out?  I don’t know.  He hasn’t purchased anything new with a secret source of income recently.  So, I’ll just say, “Wow!”  And, it was good.  Each of the tomato pies I made that day were really good.  I’ll post the rest of them in the coming weeks….

Tony Gemignani’s Coney Island Pizza (Brad’s Version)

Pizza Quest Signature Beer Dough (or use your favorite pizza dough)
Mozzarella (low moisture, full fat)
Hand Crushed Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes (the secret ingredient — but try it with your favorite  brand or canned plum tomatoes until they make it available to the public, whenever that may be)
Spicy Coppa
Calabrese Peppers
Roasted Yellow Peppers
Serrano Chiles

The raw Hatch Pepper was spicy hot! But, it changed when it was baked becoming almost sweet hot, or a little more mild. Great substitution!

I went to my local Whole Foods to get some of the ingredients.  I really wanted to find good quality ingredients to put together with these tomatoes.  I had to make some substitutions while at the store, because certain things in Tony’s original version were not available.  That is part of the fun — trying something new, or finding an exciting option.  I couldn’t find any Calabrese Peppers so I picked up some Hatch Peppers.  Apparently, these are the “hot” item these days when they’re available (only this time of the year).  I now see why!  They are spicy — very hot when raw, but I noticed that they became almost sweet when baked into my pizza. They’re still hot, but not overpowering.  I also found a great Spicy Coppa Piccante from La Quercia that was perfect for this pizza.

The symphony assembling before the show.

–Shape your Dough
–Add grated Mozzarella on top of the dough
–Top with Hand Crushed Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes (or, any other high quality tomato)
–Add the Coppa Piccante slices
–Add sliced Hatch Peppers and Roasted Yellow Peppers
–Add Chopped Serrano Chili
–Top with Grated Provolone

Into the pre-heated oven it goes, on a preheated baking stone if possible (make it as hot as your oven allows). Nobody knows for how long.  Ok, maybe we know – about 8-10 minutes for me, maybe less if your oven is hotter than mine.

This pizza was fun. It inspired me and may well be the beginning of a new line of obsession for me.

I mucked up my dough on this pie in the photo — having it a little too thin in the middle and it ripped somewhat and the pizza wasn’t perfect.  So much effort, shopping, chopping, grating, hand crushing down the drain?  But, that’s only if we were just talking about the photos.  This pizza rocked!  As Owen said, the sauce was incredible.  The blend of ingredients makes this one of my favorite pizzas in a while (I say that a lot, I guess).  But it will become a regular in my house for sure — at least as long as those tomatoes hold out.  The hatch peppers were great, you can see I didn’t add too many after tasting them raw, but next time I won’t be so shy. 

Take a whirl at this one, and let us know what you come up with…






Hi Brad. I was reading you new post on Pizza Quest about the Coney Island pizza. I am new to trying to make good quality pizzas at home. I use a conventional oven (GE Profile) at 500 degrees and a baking stone.
My question is this: Is it really possible to get a good crust out of a 500 degree conventional oven. I have made outstanding sauce and using great Italian salumi from a local Italian market here in Atlanta. I just have crust trouble.
> Any thoughts would be appreciated.
> Thanks
> Rick, Atlanta, GA


Thanks for visiting our site! I get good results in my electric oven – I set it at 550 degrees and use 2 Pizza Stones – one on top to help keep the heat in when I open and close the doors. This pizza is the perfect example of what you’re talking about. My crust didn’t come up, was too thin in the middle, but the ingredients were amazing. You’ll see when I post the next few pizzas that I made in this session, that the crusts improved. I’ll get Peter to chime in here as well.


We’ve posted a few dough recipes on the site, and I published a number of others in “American Pie” and in my other books, and I can say without hesitation that it can be done quite well in a home oven if you follow the steps as outlined. Brad went the extra mile by using two stones, an excellent trick, but you can still get great results even with one baking stone. Of course, a home oven will never be the same as a professional pizza oven that can bake it in two to three minutes, but I found that in a home oven 5 to 7 minutes will get the job done if you turn it all the way up, and it will still be as good as at many pizzerias. Brad’s right, though: practice makes perfect.


Thanks. For the purposes of this discussion, one of the things I think may affect my doughs is how long they’ve sat out on the counter “resting”. Do you have anything technical to add to that – for us home cooks trying to find the perfect “timing”? I remember waiting for the cold dough to wake up with Jensen at Cass House Inn. How narrow is this window of time?


Peter and Brad:
Thank you very much. I have been using using Peter’s Neo-Neapolitan Pizza dough using SAF instant yeast and KA bread flour. I now let all the ingredients set out for 2 hours before baking. Will try and get the oven to 525-550. May consider a second stone. Again, this is a fantastic website. Can’t thank you enough for all yopu support.
Rick Fallis,
pizza fanatic, Atlanta, GA

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