Tony gemignani perfects deep dish pizza at capo’s in san francisco

Tony Gemignani serves deep dish pizza that rivals Chicago’s at his San Francisco restaurant, Capo’s. Simple drinks with vodka Try the deep dish, stuffed crust, cast iron pan and cracker crust pizzas.

San Francisco pizza master perfects deep dish Tony Gemignani serves deep dish pizza that rivals Chicago’s at his San Francisco restaurant, Capo’s. Simple drinks with tequila Try the deep dish, stuffed crust, cast iron pan and cracker crust pizzas. Simple drinks to order at a bar Check out this story on

The main event at Capo’s is an excellent take on traditional Chicago deep dish pizza. Simple drinks made with brandy This is the most popular, the Old Chicago, with meatballs and sausage hidden under the sauce.

Cast iron pan pizza uses butter on the exterior of the crust to produce a really crisp, thicker dough. Simple drinks with rum This is topped with Crown Point, which won the 2016 World’s Best of the Best at the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, broccolini, garlic, mushrooms, red onions, peppadew peppers, wild arugula, basil, shaved parmesan, oregano and a balsamic reduction).

Capo’s was designed to have a bit of a San Francisco prohibition era feel, with walls made of veneer cut from 100-year-old bricks, a painted tin ceiling, and a bar incorporating architectural elements of the Golden Gate bridge.

The scene: This column previously visited Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, where we found nothing less than the best pizzeria in the entire USA. Simple drinks to make with tequila Now owner Tony Gemignani — the first American to win World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy — is at it again with his newer Capo’s.

What made Tony’s so special is that the restaurant houses seven ovens using every type of fuel (coal, wood, gas and electric) at the precise temperatures (from 550 to 1,000 degrees) needed to authentically recreate various regional styles of pizza from Italy and around the USA, including wood-fired Neapolitan, New York-style, New York Sicilian, coal-fired New Haven-style, funky California, trendy but still rare Detroit pan-style, Rome’s long and narrow Pizza Romana, and even cracker-thin St. Simple mixed drinks with tequila Louis-style. Easy drinks with tequila But the one prominent style Tony intentionally left off the menu was Chicago deep dish, because while all the others take between three and 10 minutes to cook, deep dish can take 40-50 minutes, and would throw off the restaurant’s service and kitchen flow. Best summer cocktails with vodka Instead, Tony waited until he could open a second spot specializing in deep dish, and that is Capo’s.

Capo’s is located in the North Beach neighborhood, San Francisco’s Little Italy, just two blocks from Tony’s and its adjacent takeout spot, Slice House. Best drinks to order at a bar for girls It has more of a sit-down restaurant ambiance, not fancy but more sophisticated than the pizzeria feel at Tony’s, and that’s in part because in addition to pizza, pastas and Italian specialties are available. Best drinks to order at a bar The ceiling is pressed tin, the floors cork, the walls covered in a veneer made from century old bricks. Easy mixed drinks with tequila A panoramic mural of the neighborhood, which was found inside the walls during renovation, is on display, and the bar was designed with structural elements of the city’s famed Golden Gate Bridge. Easy to make mixed drinks with tequila It has a San Francisco prohibition era feel with four large red leather banquettes. Easy to make drinks with tequila There’s a bar along one side of the dining room where you can sit on a stool and eat or drink, and besides a full wine and beer list, Capo’s specializes in whiskies and has a lengthy, curated menu featuring more than 100 selections as diverse as rarer Kentucky bourbons, Japanese single malts, and even a Chicago white whiskey, a nod to the greater theme.

Reason to visit: Pizzas: deep dish, cast iron pan, cracker crust and quattro forni. Easy drinks to make with tequila Pastas too.

The food: Those who think of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza as just the frozen supermarket product and offerings of the one national chain are really missing something, and this column has previously visited the real thing, tasty Windy City favorite Lou Malnati’s. What are the best drinks to order at a bar But according to pizza guru and expert Gemignani, it goes way beyond even that — he has identified four distinct styles of Chicago pizza and invented a fifth, and offers them all at Capo’s.

Tony makes all his styles with Ceresota flour from one of the oldest mills in Chicago for authenticity. The best drinks to order at a bar But it is the mix of butter and lard in the crust that makes his version of standard deep dish so delicious, as well as the ultra-thick chunky tomato sauce that completes it and keeps it from getting soupy. Best drinks to order at a bar for men Because of the time deep dish takes to cook, the sauce is always on top to keep the cheese and other ingredients from burning, sort of the reverse of most pizza styles, and here, whatever you pick as your toppings comes as a hidden but wonderful surprise. Simple mixed drinks with vodka I tried the bestseller, the Old Chicago, full of meatballs and house-made sausage, in addition to fresh herbs and spices, and it was the best deep dish I’ve ever had — better than in Illinois.

Cracker crust is probably the only other Chicago-style pizza that most non-fanatics have heard of, and it is actually more popular in the city than deep dish. Simple drinks to mix with vodka Basically it’s St. Simple drinks to make with vodka Louis-style pizza, available throughout the entire Midwest. Simple drinks made with vodka The crust is as thin as you can imagine, a sweet tomato sauce is used, and the pie is traditionally cut into squares (this column previously visited St. Simple drinks made with rum Louis’ famed Imo’s, home of the Square Beyond Compare). Simple mixed drinks with rum Tony follows tradition and cuts his checkerboard style, but upgrades the often pedestrian style with from-scratch processes and superior ingredients and toppings, and Tony actually says it is his favorite style of thin-crust pizza. Simple drinks to make with rum The 15-inch pies are wider but much lighter than his others, and while it is good for a couple sharing, a hungry person could actually finish one. Best drinks made with vodka They’re cooked in a gas brick oven at higher temperatures than the other styles for a nice crispy and slightly charred crust, which also adds a touch of deeper flavor missing in many of these style pies.

The deep dish, stuffed crust, cast iron pan and cracker crust pizzas are all offered with the same options for toppings, and all feature tomato sauce, including the signature Crown Point, which won the World’s Best of the Best at the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas last year. Easy drinks to make with rum It has sharp cheddar, mozzarella, broccolini, garlic, mushrooms, red onions, peppadew peppers, wild arugula, basil, and is topped with shaved parmesan, oregano and a balsamic reduction. Easy halloween drinks with vodka There’s a lot going on, but while I love arugula on pizza, and the peppadews are a brilliant addition, I could live without broccolini, which Tony also uses on his personal favorite, the Dillinger (which in turn won Best Pan Pizza at the Vegas competition in 2014). Easy mixed drinks with rum My favorite topping combos were the Frank Nitti (mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, romano, spinach, oregano and garlic), the very Chicagoan Johnny Torrio (mozzarella, provolone, sausage, Chicago-style Italian beef, spicy giardiniera and sweet peppers), and the Old Chicago.

The stuffed variant is basically the deep dish with a top crust, which is then covered with tomato sauce, for a hidden extra layer of dough. It is derived from scarciedda, a traditional Italian Easter pie. Easy drinks to make with vodka The more unusual cast iron pan style uses the deep dish dough but is thicker, with the bottom and sides buttered so that it sears and gets really crisp. Best drinks to mix with rum This is the surprising style, very different but very good.

The extra special pizza style here is the Quattro Forni, which means four ovens. Best mixed drinks with vodka It is made in an eight-inch square pan (all the others are round) and the dough is baked at 500 degrees, then fried, then covered and rested. Easy drinks made with rum It gets cooked again, then topped, then cooked a final time, using two different ovens for this second round. Simple drinks with gin The result looks like a New York Sicilian crust but it is crusty outside with a pillowy interior and pronounced smoky flavor, very unusual. Simple drinks made with tequila Because this method is so time consuming, Capo’s just makes 10 each day and when they are gone, they are gone. Simple drinks with amaretto They are made through the next to last step and topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, garlic and oregano, and then you can add various optional toppings such as prosciutto, capicola, wild mushrooms, arugula and more for the final cook, in a wood burning oven at 800 degrees.

The pizzas are real standouts, all delicious, especially the deep dish and cast iron pies, and if that was all there was, it would still be a lot, but Capo’s also serves up a diverse array of appetizers, grinders (subs or heroes depending where you are from), main course pastas and entrees such as pork chops and chicken marsala. Simple drinks to make Tony takes everything he cooks very seriously, but you can get good chicken marsala at lots of places while the same cannot be said for the pizza — he is a master. Simple drinks with whiskey To me, pizza is the reason to come, though the appetizers I tried were excellent, especially the made-from-scratch sweet and spicy honey sausage, and so were the pastas. Best drinks with amaretto Several of these are baked in the wood oven casserole style, including a delicious seafood arrabbiata and wonderful mostaccioli Genovese with pesto, garlic, ricotta, goat cheese, artichoke hearts and sun dried tomato. Easy drinks with amaretto If you go with four or more people, one strategy is to just share a pasta as an appetizer, then split some pizzas, and then take leftovers home for breakfast. Easy drinks made with tequila That’s what I did, and I when I woke up I could not wait to have more slices.

Pilgrimage-worthy?: Yes, for pizza styles you’ve probably never had, and the best deep dish you can imagine.

Details: 641 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA; 415-986-8998;

Larry Olmsted has been writing about food and travel for more than 15 years. Simple drinks made with gin An avid eater and cook, he has attended cooking classes in Italy, judged a barbecue contest and once dined with Julia Child. Simple drinks to make with gin Follow him on Twitter, @TravelFoodGuy, and if there’s a unique American eatery you think he should visit, send him an e-mail at Simple mixed drinks with gin Some of the venues reviewed by this column provided complimentary services.

Lombardi’s is known for its coal-fired brick oven pizza made with San Marzano tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella and basil. Easy drinks with gin The pizza is sold by the pie in small and large sizes, margherita or white, with a variety of toppings available.

The signature White Clam Pizza was introduced in the 1960s and has become a trademark of the town. Simple drinks to make at home Frank Pepe’s pizzas are coal-fired, and the eatery has expanded to nine locations.

One of six signature pizzas on the menu at Pizzeria Bianco is Biancoverde, a white pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta and arugula grown for the restaurant.

Old Forge, Pa. Simple drinks to make with whiskey has a pizza style of its own, which entails a rectangular pizza cut into squares with a blend of cheeses and a chewy crust with a crispy bottom. Easy drinks with whiskey The pizzas are called trays, the pizzerias called pizza cafes, and options are red (pictured here at Cafe Rinaldi) or white.

Old Forge’s white pizza (pictured here at Arcaro & Genell) is stuffed, with a layer of dough on top and bottom. Simple mixed drinks with whiskey The top layer is usually covered in herbs and sometimes thin slices of onion. Best drinks to mix with vodka Inside, there’s no sauce, just a ton of cheese and any other fillings you choose.

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