March 24, 2021

Piping Hot Praise: Wine Spectator Loves Tony’s

by Joe Bonadio

Although it seems like a lot of people out there are just now catching on to this, I’ve always felt wine and pizza are one of the most perfect combinations in the food world. Both essentially humble products, at their best they approach the sublime–and when you put them together, they’re a guaranteed party.

Of course, there have been pizzerias that pour serious wines for decades. The wine press typically points to Shelley Lindgren for starting the trend when she opened her Marina restaurant, A-16, back in 2004. More than a year before, however, I was already a regular at Mario Batali’s Otto in New York City, enjoying one of the most comprehensive Italian wine lists I’d ever seen, alongside a menu of griddled pizzas, dried pasta dishes and contorni. Ed LaDou at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago’s was turning out category-defying pizzas fully twenty years before that, and they were certainly no slouch in the wine department.

Jules Gregg in front of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, recently featured by Wine Spectator as one of 8 pizzerias with outstanding wine programs. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana has been on top of its wine game from its inception in 2009, and that work has borne serious fruit over recent years. Since shortly after the appointment of Jules Gregg as Wine Director, the restaurant has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year–six years straight.

Wine Spectator likes us a lot, so much so that the publication recently featured Tony’s Pizza Napoletana as one of just eight distinguished pizzerias across the country. You can read their article “Eight Piping Hot Pizza-Places With Terrific Wine Lists” here.

I spoke with Jules about the honor, and she had this to say: “I was surprised and honored to be in the new Wine Spectator article. When we received our first award of excellence seven years ago, we were one of only three pizzerias in the country to get an award,” she explains. “One of the best parts is that two of my friends were also on that list of eight: Shelley from A-16 and Whitney Asher from Brava in the Berkshires.”

Jules was also kind enough to provide us with her wine pairings for five of Tony’s most popular items. Here are her recommendations:

Coccoli with Prosciutto and Burrata
Pinot Nero/Chardonnay, Rosé, Ferrari, Trento, NV $12/$36
A great sparkling Rosé from the north of Italy, made in the champagne method. Not a lot is better than fried dough and bubbles.

The meatball gigante at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, just as luscious as it looks. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Margherita Pizza
Nero d’Avola/Frappato, Planeta, Ceresuolo, Sicilia, 2017 $13/$52
This lighter red wine is full of delicate red fruit flavors with a bit of ‘funk’ from the terroir of Sicilia. Enough body to pair with other foods, but not so overpowering as to mask the delicious fresh taste of the Margherita.

Cal-Italia Pizza
Sangiovese/Merlot, Rosato, Fattoria Sardi, Toscana, 2019 $12/$48
100% organic grapes from Tuscany. A great Spring wine with enough acidity to cut through the cheese, but still pair beautifully with the fig and prosciutto.

Bucatini Pasta
Cab Sauv/Sangiovese/Merlot/Syrah, Gemignani, Napa Valley, 2018 $15/$60
This signature pasta pairs perfectly with Chef/Owner Tony Gemignani’s wine! The spicy sausage and creamy tomato sauce are great with this fruity blend, the syrah calming the spicy flavors. A delicious ‘Super Tuscan’ from our own backyard in Napa, well-balanced with medium tannins and bright red fruit.

Coal Fired New Yorker Pizza
Cesanese, Casale di Giglio, Lazio, 2016 $11/$44
Cesanese, my favorite red sauce pizza wine, goes perfectly with the New Yorker. Medium-bodied with spice and fruit that pairs well with meat dishes and tomato sauce, this traditional varietal from the region just south of Rome just screams pizza.

The takeaway? Next time you’re trying to decide on a pizza (or two) at Tony’s,
save a few minutes for the wine list, and make sure to ask for Julie. She’s
usually on the floor at least four days a week, and happy to pair wine to your
personal picks. Enjoy!


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