Wednesday, August 15, 2012

T is for: Tony's Pizza Napoletana {Restaurant Review}

Overall, my memories of Naples pale in comparison to the rest of my Italian travels. It was 2002, and I had finished up my study abroad program in Barcelona. Afterwards, I traveled for six weeks, hitting up the South of France, most of Italy, the Greek Islands, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Paris, and the Netherlands.

Like pretty much anyone who has visited Italy, I fell in love. I stuffed my face with pizza, pasta and gelato. I got lost in ancient ruins and met some amazing people. I saw Cinque Terre, Florence, Sienna, Venice, Rome, Positano, Ischia, and Pompei.

We passed through Naples on our way to the Amalfi Coast. I remember one of the girls getting accosted in the train station, and I recall it being dirtier than the other parts of Italy I visited.

But the highlight of our short time in Napoli…the pizza.

Naples is of course the birthplace of pizza, so it should come as no surprise they are experts at it. But guess what? You don't have to go to Italy to try some Neopolitan pizza. All you need to do is head to Tony's in North Beach. Tony knows his pizza. He won best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, becoming the first American and non Neapolitan to win this coveted award.

They have a gigantic menu, but if you want to try the world-famous margherita, get there early. Tony's makes only 73 of them per day. And if Neopolitan pizza isn't your thing, they also offer Sicilian, Pizza Romana, Classic Italian, Classic American, New York, California, Detroit, and St. Louis style pizzas, utilizing seven different types of pizza ovens. (They even have gluten free pizza!)

My friend Mark is generally up for anything. Even eating dinner at 4:45 just so we can have some Margherita pizza. He also lives in North Beach, so it worked out perfectly. We sat outside on one of the little sidewalk tables and aside from the pizza, we also got a salad. I don’t know why. I guess so we didn’t feel as bad about having pizza for dinner. Salad was fine. Nothing to write home about, but the pizza….well, that was another story. 

This pizza had a lot of hype. And at a price point of 19 bucks, some will tell you it lives up to it, some will tell you it's just like any other pizza you can get in North Beach. I will agree that there are other top-quality pizza destinations in San Francisco's Italian neighborhood. But I also believe this is the best one I've tried.

I think the thing I adored the most about this pizza was the simplicity of it. The only ingredients are San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh globs of mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. I think the sea salt really brings it all home...highlighting all of the wonderful Italian flavors. And the crust...airy and chewy and heavenly. It's cooked in a 900 degree wood fired oven to the point where it gets those little charred black blisters which are my favorite part.

I will definitely be coming back...likely with my mom, as she loves this style of pizza. There are so many other yummy looking pies on the menu, but it will be hard to deviate from this little *slice* of heaven. Thanks Tony for bringing the best of Naples to North Beach!


  1. Your memories of Naples brought back memories of my own, during my time in the US military I was stationed there back in the 90s. Those of us stationed there remember it as the armpit of Europe. But the food was another matter, I gained 20 pounds there and never lost it. I know it's sacrilege but I wasn't impressed with the pizza there. I did love the mozzarella di bufala though.

  2. wow. the pizza looks so delicious. I so love pizza. you made me crave pizza.

  3. Went there recently and thought the Margherita was good. What was better? The Quail Egg, White Rose Potato, & Guanciale pizza. If I could have pizza for breakfast that would be the choice. Try it next time Jaymee!


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