Pizza Today - August 2022 - 43

A
pproaching 1570 Stockton Street in
the North Beach neighborhood of San
Francisco at lunchtime, a line of eager
diners stretches for a half block. At
the corner resides a thriving legend in
pizza history, Tony's Pizza Napoletana.
Everyone on that block knew they were
partaking in something special.
Tony's Pizza Napoletana is a melting
pot of pizza styles. The pizzeria excels
at an array of them, including Classic
American, Classic Italian, Pizza Napoletana,
California, Pizza Romano, New
York, Grandma, Sicilian, Detroit, Coalfired,
St. Louis and gluten-free. With
a full menu, Tony's applies the same
" respect the craft " approach to everything
served, from the giant meatball
app to house-made pastas, desserts and
a comprehensive beverage program.
" I always said I want to make it an
institution, " says owner Tony Gemignani.
" There is only one. I always felt
like Tony's could be the best pizza in
the U.S. It could be the best pizzeria in
the world. Tony's is like what's your
favorite spot in Detroit and New
Haven and New York and St. Louis
and let's all have it in one place. "
Tony's has experienced a renaissance
that has catapulted the famed pizzeria
into uncharted territory: one-milliondollar
net sales a month. It's an unfathomable
number for even the highest
volume of pizzeria.
The blockbuster sales and Tony's
unwavering reputation as one of the
world's best pizzerias have earned
Tony's Pizza Napoletana the coveted
Pizzeria of the Year 2022 honor by
Pizza Today.
To grasp the steps Tony took to reach
unprecedented sales, especially amidst a
volatile business environment, let's look
at Tony's in its infancy.
Today, Tony Gemignani is
at the pinnacle of his 31-year
pizza career. He is the chef and
owner of more than 30 restaurants and
a school. The 13-time World Pizza
Champion's name has become synonymous
with pizza making. He has taught
some of the industry's brightest operators
and pizza makers. Today's pizzeria
community looks to him as an industry
thought leader. It's easy to forget that
Tony's ascension was gradual and filled
with obstacles and those who doubted
" Everybody said
'why'. Everything
has always been
'what are you doing
that for'. Nobody
got it other than my
wife. "
his vision. But he never did. " Tony's
is the first concept that had multiple
ovens and styles, " Gemignani says.
" Everybody said 'why'? Everything has
always been 'what are you doing that
for'? Nobody got it other than my wife. "
He spent several years traveling and
researching the pizza styles, processes
and ingredients that put Tony's on
the map globally. In the mid-90s, he
couldn't simply Google how to create so
many styles. Traveling to pizza cities, he
immersed himself into every facet of a
given style. He also went city to city to
experience Italian festivals and soak up
every pizza industry-related event. " Before
it was Google, before you could just
YouTube it, you had to be out there and
I always say, it's the experience of going
to Detroit and going to Buddy's and going
to Naples and trying Enzo's. There
is that feel or understanding of it. "
The industry was very different then.
Operators held their secrets closer than
they do today. Learning a new style was
time-consuming. He spent a decade
bringing the concept vision to fruition.
" There was a lot of sourcing, not only
importing ingredients, it was sourcing
ingredients that were regional ingredients
from America that nobody could
get, " he says. " So, there was a lot into
Tony's that took a lot of research, time
and being on the road all those years at
the conventions and pizza and Italian
festivals. "
Tony gained experience and acclaim
at his brother's pizzeria, Pyzano's
Pizzeria in Castro Valley. But Tony
wanted to chart a course of his own
making. He found partners and just
after the economic recession of 2008,
Tony found a quiet Bay Area neighborhood
that had yet to be revitalized.
Vacant storefronts were plentiful in
North Beach. Honing in on the Little
Italy neighborhood, Tony had his pick
of buildings. But as he eyed the corner
of Stockton and Union, even his broker
warned him that it was a cursed corner.
Tony instead followed his due diligence
on the block's history. " For 90 years it
was like three places, " Tony says. " After
that, it was three to four places in two
and a half years. "
Tony's Pizza Napoletana opened as a
full-service pizzeria in 2009 with raving
success. Right away Tony saw a void in
convenience, pick-up and delivery in his
fine-dining pizzeria and wanted to take
over the neighboring storefront. Within
eight months Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza
& Slice House opened under the same
business license.
With the combination of fine dining
and a counter-service slice house,
Tony's was designed to hit high sales
figures and its rise began gradually.
" Celebrating the first $1 million, it
took a lot and then to get to $1.2 and
to do a $5,000 night, those were exciting
times, " Gemignani says. " Before she
was my wife, my girlfriend sitting on
the counter and me writing out checks.
I don't want people to think that I was
never there. Or you could be there, and
AUGUST 2022 / PIZZATODAY.COM / 43
http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Pizza Today - August 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - August 2022

PIZZERIA OF THE YEAR
Employee Ownership
Fall Menu Favorites
Blended Service Models
Pickles on Pizza
Commentary
Digital
Conversation
Mike's Monthly Tip
Man on the Street
Building Blocks
On Deck
Knead to Know
Destinations
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - August 2022 - CT1
Pizza Today - August 2022 - CT2
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Cover1
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Cover2
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Commentary
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 4
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 5
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 6
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 7
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Digital
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 9
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Conversation
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 11
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Mike's Monthly Tip
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 13
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 15
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Building Blocks
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 17
Pizza Today - August 2022 - On Deck
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 19
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 21
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 22
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 23
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Destinations
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 25
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Employee Ownership
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 27
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 28
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 29
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Blended Service Models
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 31
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 32
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 33
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Pickles on Pizza
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 35
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 36
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 37
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Fall Menu Favorites
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 39
Pizza Today - August 2022 - PIZZERIA OF THE YEAR
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 41
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 42
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 43
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 44
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 45
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 46
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 47
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 48
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 49
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 51
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 53
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 54
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 55
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 56
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 57
Pizza Today - August 2022 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 59
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 60
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 61
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 62
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 63
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 64
Pizza Today - August 2022 - 65
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Cover3
Pizza Today - August 2022 - Cover4
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