January 25, 2022

Inspiration From The Void: Four New Pizzas Hit The Menu At Tony’s

by Joe Bonadio

Ask any artist or musician and they’ll tell you: the creative urge is a funny thing. The muse comes and goes on its own fickle schedule, and you can never tell from where that next flash of inspiration might emanate. As a working writer, I can verify that it’s a well-worn part of the territory.

Of course the pandemic has only complicated matters further, playing havoc with our schedules and scuttling our workplace rituals—and generally making it harder for us to get our jobs done. But the creative spirit is rarely constrained for long, and there have been some gratifying exceptions to this rule.

I recently spoke with Tony about one of them: this week, he is introducing four brand-new pizzas to the lineup at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. This is big news for Tony’s faithful regulars—and you might be surprised to learn where the new pies originated. Edited for length and clarity, our conversation is below.

Joe Bonadio: So you’ve got some new things coming on to the menu at Tony’s.

Tony Gemignani: Yeah, we have some new pizzas that we’re excited to share. It’s funny: I got Covid, and I lost my sense of smell and taste for two and a half, three weeks. And then it slowly started coming back—I’ve got a very strong sense of smell, Julie teases me about it all the time.

So for some reason, when I started to taste and smell again, I came up with these new pizza recipes. Laying in bed, sick as hell, I was thinking I needed to add some new pizzas to the menu.

JB: Why do you think this prompted it?

TG: Well, all of a sudden you’ve got your senses back. And at first the only thing I tasted was something super salty or very acidic and sour. They were the only things that could quench my thirst for flavor.

El Jefe pizza

The mind-blowing El Jefe pizza, brand-new on the menu at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

JB: You had a craving for strong flavors.

TG: Yeah. I was in a void for a few weeks, and I was eating different things. I ate at a Mexican restaurant, and I had some fried plantains. And the next thing you know, these fried plantains went into a pizza. I had some blue cheese on a salad, and I said okay.

And I started thinking about some of the pizzas we used to do. We had a carnitas pizza called the Fear & Loathing that we used to make back in the day. Then I started thinking about a pizza called the Cal-Italia that I love, and it’s a popular pizza—but what can we do on the wood fire line?

With that said, those are two of the pizzas that we’re adding. The El Jefe, which could be one of my favorite pizzas on the entire menu. It’s an apricot-habanero jam with carnitas that we cook in fresh oranges, so you’ve got a mozzarella-based pizza with carnitas and white onion. Then we fry the plantains to order, and put those on top with cilantro and sea salt, and I do an orange juice mist over the top.

JB: You’re telling me this is one of your favorite pizzas?

TG: Definitely, right now. It has gotten to be kind of the employees’ favorite, because I’ve been testing it with them for the last couple of days. It’s called the El Jefe.

That's My Jam Pizza

If you prefer your pizza on the sweet/savory side, the That’s My Jam might just be your pie. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

JB: It sounds unbelievable.

TG: Yeah, it’s good. And we’ll never run out of carnitas. My whole crew knows how to make carnitas! (Laughter)

Another one we’re adding is called That’s My Jam. It’s a bacon fig jam, with medjool dates, prosciutto, Point Reyes blue cheese and Piave cheese on a mozzarella base. Fried caramelized onions, with arugula and a sweet white wine vinegar mist sprayed over the top. Those two pizzas are great.

There’s also a new Sicilian pizza we came up with called the Burrata Queen. It has ricotta as a base, then sliced mozzarella over the top and baked. It has a pesto artichoke cream—with one ingredient I won’t give away—and fresh burrata, agave and garlic, hot pepper oil, crushed red pepper and Maldon salt over the top. That pizza: if you’re a pesto and burrata fan, it’s killer.

We also added a couple of salads, an Italian chopped salad and a Blue Gem salad. The Little Gem has Medjool dates, blue cheese, candied walnuts and red onion, and you can get it with smoked bacon also.

Saints Peter & Paul Church

The stately Saints Peter & Paul Church, located directly across from Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

So two salads, two wood fire pizzas, a Sicilian….and oh yeah, the All Meat. The Carnivore! On the American line.

We actually didn’t have an all meat pizza at Tony’s. We get a lot of people who ask for it, there’s a lot of carnivores out there. So we added The Carnivore. It’s got ham, salami, smoked applewood bacon, house-made sausage, and thick and thin cup ’n’ char pepperoni. It’s super good.

So yeah, there are some stellar pizzas coming on.

JB: I can’t wait to get started on them. Do you have anything else to report?

TG: Yes, one last thing. We’re doing shaved truffles now, which you can get over the Tartufo pizza, or the meatball gigante with the Alfredo cream sauce. So that’s a nice addition.