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October 27, 2020

The Regulars Chime In: What’s Your Must-Have At Tony’s?

by Joe Bonadio

When you live in North Beach, one of the things you become accustomed to is giving recommendations to visitors. Sometimes it’s a good bar or coffeeshop they’re looking for, or maybe a good place to dance, but it’s usually restaurants people want to know about. Being very food-centric (have you noticed?) I enjoy fielding these requests, and I certainly have no shortage of opinions.

Patrick and Stephanie

Patrick and Stephanie pose at the 10-year anniversary party at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana last year. | Photo: Sarah Inloes

As you’d probably expect, I’ve been recommending Tony’s Pizza Napoletana for years. Folks invariably ask me what to order, and if it were any other place I’d probably have an easy answer. But when it comes to Tony’s, I almost always tell them just to wing it— talk to the server, and pick out something that sounds good.

Now, that might be surprising coming from me of all people, but I’ve noticed something about Tony’s. Every patron has their own reason for coming here, typically the one or two special items they crave the most. But it’s different for every person––and there are always wildcards. In a way, the Tony’s menu is like a boxset from your favorite band. There are definitely plenty of hits in there, but there are also a lot of hidden gems.

Perfect Slice

Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a Perfect Slice. | Photo: Sarah Inloes

To demonstrate my point, I thought it would be fun to talk to some of Tony’s most devout regulars, and ask them: What’s your favorite thing to get at Tony’s? The results might surprise you—and could change up your order.

David A.
“Well, that’s a tough one. There’s such a large selection, so I’m always torn. But when it comes to pizza, I’ve got three favorites: the Capodimonte, a lovely wood-fired white pie, and the Porto, which won Tony his last World Championship. And then the New Jersey pie—the gas-fired one made with cheese first, and sauce on top. I get it with sausage and pepperoni added, and the sauce has such bright flavors.”

Patrick R.
I like the Calabrese burger with no bun, and fried green beans. Low carb, and it’s the best burger in town. If I ate pizza every time I was at Tony’s, I’d be super fat. But when it comes to pizza, definitely the Coal-Fired New Yorker. Also, the coccoli are fantastic.

North Beach's Saints Peter & Paul Church

North Beach’s Saints Peter & Paul Church glows in the October sunlight. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Nick F.
I almost always get the St. Louis. For toppings, it’s the same as when I’m ordering wine: Dealer’s Choice.

Francesca F.
My favorite is the Spicy Grandma, and I add Italian sausage to it. I call it the Angry Grandma. It’s funny, because whenever I get it, the kitchen knows it’s my order– Francesca and Nick are here!

Matt R.
When it comes to things I recommend to people, I like to get the coccolis to start. And then for pizza, my favorite is the Honey Pie. It’s kind of zesty, and I don’t eat meat, and it’s got such a great flavor. For drinks, I like the That’s How I Roll.*

As a perfect way to wrap this list up, I recently joined my friend Randy DeMartini, director at North Beach’s revered Salesian Boys & Girls Club, for lunch on Tony’s patio. After we shared a plate of the killer deep-fried green beans, Randy turned me on to his pizza of the moment: the Americano.

Americano

The Americano at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is a flavor assault, with no fewer than eleven toppings. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

This was my first time trying this pie, and if you like your pizza loaded, this is the one for you. Tony really empties the walk-in when he makes this baby: mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, black olives, Italian sausage, linguiça, bacon, cherry tomatoes, and scallions, all ganged up on a medium-thin American-style crust. It’s a bombshell.

I suspect the best thing about writing this article will be finally trying all these things I haven’t had yet. I plan to get started on that tomorrow. In the meanwhile, our heartfelt thanks to all of Tony’s regulars for being such loyal customers. And if we didn’t get to you this time around, we’ll be doing another one of these soon. See you all in the neighborhood!

 

*“That’s How I Roll” is Robvell’s modern take on an Old Fashioned; I agree with Matt on this one.