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Cheap Date: Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House

Photography by Aubrie Pick

Some people have it in their blood,” says Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in North Beach. “Other people are just making pizza.” Suffice it to say, Gemignani—who resembles a pizzaiolo sent straight from Central Casting—considers himself in the former category. His pizza career spans nearly two decades (he and his brother own Pyzano’s in Castro Valley). He’s won the World Pizza Cup in Naples (slaying his Italian competitors) and he can toss dough with the best of them. At the year-and-a-half-old San Francisco flagship restaurant, he serves pizza in all its permutations—thick Sicilian, thin-crusted Romana (sold by the meter), classic American, classic Italian, and a very special margherita, of which he makes 73 a day. He recently expanded his Little Italy empire next door, opening Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House, which is little more than a counter and a couple of tables. The space also houses the only coal-fired oven in Northern California, according to Gemignani, and the slices are East Coast-style—a denser crust with a gentle char, big enough to fold in half down the middle. But make no mistake: This isn’t your just-out-of-the-clubs slice joint. Tony’s Slice House closes at 11 p.m. “I don’t want to cook for the kind of people who want pizza at 3 a.m.,” he says. Another differentiating factor is the Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches—as big as a Mission burrito, the bread piled high with thinly shaved coal-roasted beef, topped with giardiniera, a pickled vegetable salad. Gemignani advises to “get it spicy.” We’d have to agree.

Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House
1556 Stockton St., 415-835-9888