Bay Area Pizzaiolo Seeks Perfect Oven

You: A hot, shapely Italian number that I can place my burning wood in.

Me: An eager young pizzaiolo used to playing with fire. I've played around most of my life; now looking to settle down with the right oven.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, champion pizza-maker Tony Gemignani hopes to open a wood-burning pizzeria with an oven worthy of his talent, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gemignani, long known in the pizza world for his pizza-spinning techniques (he's been called "the Michael Jordan of pizza-tossing"), got tired of dough acrobatics a couple years ago and started to focus on making true Neapolitan-style pies.

After installing a portable Beehive oven in his backyard and practicing the craft, he went to Italy to compete in the Trofeo Citta de Napoli Championato Internationale per Pizzaioli in June. And he won.

"It was a big win," he said. "People are comparing it to Stag's Leap (Wine Cellars) going to Paris," and beating the best French Bordeaux makers in the 1976 tasting that put California Cabernet Sauvignon on the map.

Trouble is, strict air-quality standards in the Napa Valley usually don't allow for wood-burning ovens there.

But the Vera Pizza Napoletana association (aka "the Pizza Police") is going to allow Gemignani and his brothers to open a pizza school under its aegis. If so, Gemignani and family hope to talk the local government into making an exception. As the Chronicle says, "If that happens, they hope to start construction late this before year and move from their current location in a strip mall near Interstate 580."