Tony's Pizza Napoletana
1570 Stockton Street, San Francisco CA 94133 (map); 415-835-9888; tonyspizzanapoletana.com
Pizza Style: New styles include the Pizza Futura and Detroit-style Red Top
The Skinny: The Pizza Futura is a stand-out for both its flavorful, country-style crust and the excellent flavors of its toppings. The Detroit-style is far more standard, but a delicious, cheesy pie perfect for football season.
Price: $22 for the Pizza Futura (plus $3.95 to add tomatoes); $19 for the Detroit-style Red Top
Tony's Pizza Napoletana has been packed since it opened. It doesn't hurt that it's located dead in the middle of tourist-saturated North Beach; it also doesn't hurt that the wide variety of pies are delicious, across the board (Slice correspondents agree; check out some past write-ups of Tony's). So when I heard that Tony Gemignani was putting out some new pies—the Pizza Futura and the Detroit-style— trying them out became my top priority.
The first that caught my attention was the Pizza Futura ($22), an anomaly of pizza creation from the crust-up. Made using an Anchor Steam starter, the pizza is topped with proscuitto, arugula, blackberry honey, and curls of shaved Sierra Nevada white cheddar cheese. For an additional $3.75, you can add hand-crushed pink Himalayan-salted Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes (talk about a mouthful). The pizza description certainly displayed Gemignani's penchant for bombast when it comes to pizza, and while I was certainly intrigued, I wasn't entirely convinced that the beer-meat-cheese-honey combination would live up. And $3.75 to add tomatoes? C'mon, Tony.
Boy, were my doubts unfounded. Let's start with the crust: malty, hearty, and infused with a delicious whole grain flavor. It tasted homemade, in a good way—it reminded me of a really excellent pain de campagne. It's certainly very dense...
Especially when compared to the airy, golden-hued Italian-style crust...
But with flavor this good, a little breadiness was just fine.
Same goes for the undercrust. There wasn't much char, but the flavor was not lacking for it. As for the toppings, they were all excellent, especially in combination. I was initially put off by the unmelted pieces of cheddar, but the sharp flavor really complemented the salty chew of the proscuitto, the rich sweetness of the honey, and sharp bite of the arugula. And those $3.75 tomatoes? Their sweet, fresh flavor was wonderful, and worked very well with the rest of the toppings. Definitely a great addition; so good that I found myself wishing that they were automatically included on the pizza, rather than being an optional add-on.
Onto the Detroit-style Red Top ($19), a rectangular pizza cooked in blue-steel pans from, you guessed it, Detroit! Topped with Wisconsin cheddar, mozzarella cheese, and a swath of tomato sauce, this pizza is as simple as the Futura is complex.
The crust was nothing special, though admittedly, the Futura's was a hard act to follow. While its shape suggested a Sicilian pie, the crust was more chewy than dense —it wasn't nearly as thick as I expected. And, it didn't have much discernible flavor, at least none that was evident through the taste of the toppings. Still, it acted as an excellent vehicle for ample amounts of delicious, melty cheese, and the wonderfully fresh, oregano-laced tomato sauce. Another nice touch were the garlic butter toasted corners, which allowed the cheese to extend to the very edge of the pan.
So would I order them again? The Futura, definitely. And the Detroit-style, while nothing revolutionary, could easily be my new favorite game-day pie.