The new restaurant from Tony's Pizza Napoletana serves pizza and Italian treats you can't refuse

Capo's quattro forni comes out piping hot -- but you'll need to order it ahead of time

APPETITE Tony's Pizza Napoletana reigns for my favorite all-around pizza experience, because of its range of impeccable pies, from New York to Neapolitan. I'm no stranger to these categories, especially after years of living in what's become a damn great pizza town. As an 11-time world pizza champion, Tony Gemignani has done the impossible: win 2007's World Champion Pizza Maker prize at Italy's World Pizza Cup, the only American and non-Neapolitan to do so. What makes Tony's special is painstaking detail to which each style is prepared, right down to flour and ovens used, whether authentic versions of Detroit pizza cooked in a 550 degree gas oven, or a Jersey tomato pie that could make one weep with its garlic and tomato purity.

Enter Capo's ("boss" in Italian), Gemignani's new Chicago pizza endeavor. Consulting four scions of Chicago's legendary pizza families (Marc Malnati of Lou Malnati's, Leo Spitziri of Giordano's, Jeff Stolfe from Connie's, Tony Troiano of JB Alberto's), he chose three ovens — one wood-fired and two brick, heated to different degrees depending on recipe — and is the only West Coast restaurant using Ceresota flour from one of Illinois' oldest mills, a staple of Chicago's most revered pizzerias.

Capo's Prohibition-era setting (pressed tin ceiling included) is entirely my scene. From the doorman to a stylish host, it evokes a decades-old North Beach haunt, not a newcomer. Red leather booths named after Chicago mobsters, a functioning 1930's telephone booth, a restored, 1960's panoramic painting (found in the floor boards) of Adolf Restaurant once housed in the space... Capo's is an ode to Chicago and San Francisco's rich Italian-American immigrant history.

Sweet-spicy house Calabrese sausage ($18) in roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and light tomato cream sauce is dreamy. An antipasti platter ($12) feels sparse compared to antipasti "salads" of my New Jersey youth, dense with meat and cheese, but meats here are hand-sliced daily on an antique slicer in Capo's front window. I rarely seeing Chicago specialties mostaccioli or conchiglie ($12 in pesto or tomato sauce, $13.50 in meat sauce) on West Coast menus; Tony's mostaccioli is a beaut. Appropriately cheesy, baked in a wood-fired oven, red meat sauce seals the deal. Capo's signature dish, quattro forni ($13), is limited to 20 a day due to the preparation required and well worth ordering. Like a glorified garlic bread, or as a waitress described it, doughnut, puffed bread is cooked four times in different ovens, doused in tomato sauce, mozzarella, garlic. If you have room and a warm whiskey crisp is available for dessert, get it.

Then there's the pizza. While I've savored excellent thin crust in Chicago, even after multiple tries at original locations of legendary chains or solo favorites, I've yet to find deep dish remotely comparable to Capo's or Bay Area deep dish havens, Zachary's and Little Star. I won't give up the hunt, but thus far for me eating deep dish here is better than going to Chicago (though I'd happily eat my way through Chicago any day).


It took some years to learn that eating deep-dish makes my stomach feel like it's full of dough--which I guess it is. I'm sure Capo's will have some other dish I might like--hopefully cheaper than La Locanda.

I like my pies Naples-style, and since Tony's is across town, I get to Mozzeria on 16th and Guerrero often. They've got the essentials for a perfect margherita (pizza, that is): mozzarella di buffalo and a wood-burning stove.

Recently, my girlfriend and I rode the 33-Stanyan past Delfina (gas oven only), which had people waiting on the sidewalk for lunch, en route to Mozzeria. The place was empty. Nice to be seated immediately but an ominous sign. Their margherite are every bit as delicious and authentically napoletana as Tony's.

Why aren't people lining up for Mozzeria?

Posted by Carl Russo on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:24 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

Arinells is hit and miss, if it is fresh it is delicious, but if it is not, you're shoveling shoe leather down your gullet.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

is not absolutely uniform from day-to-day, but even when it's "bad" it is still damn good; and when it's good, there is no better pizza experience on either side of the Hudson River.

Arinell's Pizza is the best of both worlds with it's New York-style construction balance and hole-in-the-wall eating environment along with the San Francisco sourdough culture.

Good music is generally on hand at Arinell's too.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

I like Deja Vu! You gotta wait, though.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

Escape from New York and Zante's Indian Pizza.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

Soggy, nasty mess. Yuck.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

Thanks, everyone! I appreciate you reading & commenting...

I'm a big fan of Mozzeria and it certainly is an underrated gem, although there's so much excellent Neapolitan pizza in the Bay Area, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle in that oversaturated category.

This review was for solely for Capo's, since it just opened in December, and is one of three incredible dish pizza restaurants we have here in the Bay Area. And Tony's first venture into deep dish.

Arinell's is definitely "real deal" NY slice... reminds me of hole-in-the-wall, by-the-slice joints I'd frequent in my younger days in NYC.

Now I'm hungry for pizza...

Posted by Virginia Miller on Jan. 25, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

I had visited one off sites to see the recipe and luckily i had got it. After tryingh so hard in my double oven temperature set i found good taste.

Posted by Benjman on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

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