July 16, 2021

Tony’s Snares #1 Spot On Two Top 50 Lists In One Week

by Joe Bonadio

There has been an awful lot going on over the past few weeks as San Francisco fully, finally reopens, so some of you may have missed a couple of noteworthy news items about Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Over the course of a single week, the restaurant was featured in two separate Top 50 Pizzeria lists. Incredibly, Tony’s took first place in both of them.

Published by Big 7 Travel, the first of the two lists featured the online travel guide’s choice for top pizzeria in each state, ranking them against one another. And according to Big 7, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana beats them all. In their editors’ words: “You won’t find a better pizza anywhere else. Fact.”

That’s quite the accolade, but even more impressive is the second list. Assembled by 50 Top Pizza of Italy, a website that ranks pizzerias across the globe, the list named Tony’s Pizza Napoletana as #1 in the U.S. In honoring the restaurant with their top prize, the organization called Tony’s “a true pioneer for pizza in the United States.” When you consider Naples is six thousand miles away from our little peninsula, that’s pretty gratifying.

And though the back-to-back wins confer some king-size bragging rights on San Francisco, somehow this feat was barely covered in the local press. Tony’s wasn’t the only Golden State honoree either, far from it. Out of the 50 U.S. pizzerias recognized by the Italians, fully ten are in California–and five of them are right here in San Francisco (along with Tony’s, Del Popolo, A-16, Double Zero and Flour+Water all got the nod).

Not to say the big wins didn’t garner some attention. One New Jersey pizza lover in particular took note of the double victory–and let’s just say he got a little crusty about it.

TPN Pizza

Some nice photo work from a Tony’s fan visiting from San Ramon: look at that cup and char pepperoni. | Photo: Rochelle ‘Shella’ T., Yelp

In his recent “editorial” on, New Jersey talk show host Jeff Deminski unloaded on San Francisco, and Tony in particular:

San Francisco….was ranked #1 in America. Some clown named Tony Gemignani runs Tony’s Pizza Napoletana there and Big 7 declared it the best anywhere. Come on.

Deminski (his real name, apparently), also declared that he once “lived in California and California has no soul,” and that he can not conceive of “anyplace in Godless California having the best pizza 3,000 miles away from where the actual best pizza exists.” I guess Jeff has never heard of Italy.

Keep in mind, this was all before the second Top 50 rankings came out, with the Italians also handing Tony’s the #1 spot. Once that list was published, Deminski just couldn’t help himself, and was soon back at it:

“What’s really disturbing though is both this latest site and the Big 7 honors gave the number one pizza in the United States to Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in…San Francisco?….I can’t believe anything from San Francisco could be named the best, let alone pizza.”

Coit Tower

Coit Tower looking handsome on a typical blustery July day in North Beach. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Man, what did San Francisco do to this guy?

I spoke with Tony about the unusual plaudits (and the unexpectedly hilarious reactions) last week. Edited for clarity, our conversation is recounted below.

Joe Bonadio: Congratulations, Tony. This sort of came out of the blue, no?

Tony Gemignani: It did. It’s funny, because there’s a debate going on between the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as to who has the best pizza. All these polls are happening, so anytime a new poll comes out, people are quick to say “New York has the best pizza! No, New Jersey has the best!

The thorn in their side is that we keep coming up as #1. It’s not New Jersey, not New York or New Haven. The last two lists that were announced, it was us.

JB: Number one on two entirely independent lists.

One of Tony's students

One of Tony’s students at the International School of Pizza shows off his Detroit Style on graduation day. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

TG: Yeah. It’s funny how pissed off people get, and with this rivalry going on, they keep on writing about it. Just accept it: we know what we’re doing here. They just don’t want to face it.

It’s unbelievable. You’ve got a guy slandering me, so upset and angry—and he’s never set foot in the restaurant.

JB: The guy called you a clown! I mean, come on. He obviously didn’t even bother googling you. Meanwhile, has anyone in the local press picked up on this?

TG: No one in the local press has. You look at all these other restaurants that were named 9th, 11th, 20th place. All these different rankings, and all their local politicians and newspapers are all bragging about it. You’d think it would be that way here. That it would be something that San Francisco could brag about.

And we weren’t the only ones in San Francisco on that Top 50 list: you’ve got Del Popolo, Doppio Zero and some others on there as well.

But writers particularly don’t like North Beach. They always say it’s just a tourist trap. Well, we were busy during Covid. And you can’t say we were busy because of tourism. That’s bullshit, and they’ll never be able to say that again. Because we can pull people from Oakland, we can pull people from the Mission—and we get the people from our neighborhood.

JB: It’s always been that way, too. If you want to see locals in North Beach, just walk into your bar.

Toscano Brothers

Toscano Brothers Bakery/Dago Bagel has attracted a loyal following since opening in North Beach, and will soon complete its parklet. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

TG: Of course, but they still write that stuff. And you’d figure that someone in the local press would cover it, but they’re not. Italy is saying we’re the best in the entire U.S., number one. Italy! And it doesn’t even get into SF Gate.

JB: You’re right. It’s such a positive, and it seems like the kind of thing we should be focusing on right now.

TG: I agree. Our resilience, and the success stories we’ve got all over this community. This is just one of them.

JB: I understand you got a visit from the people at CNBC this week.

TG: Yes, that was nice. Shepard Smith has a show on CNBC now, and he’s got a feature that focuses on businesses across America that made it through Covid. They came out and filmed at the restaurant, and we talked about the parklets being built, and Goldbelly and all that.

It was nice to be on the news, and to be interviewed. We’ll have to see how it turns out. I hope it’s good.

Thanks for reading the Seven Ovens Blog. Come back next week, when we’ll be talking to Tony about his newest project: Antonio’s Pastries.