The following post is from our friend Vincent's Blog: Rediscovering Pizz.
Saturday night did not disappoint. Along with several friends, we made it to Pizza Rock at the K Street Mall and put our names down to be seated. The place was packed but as we waited to be seated we got to watch the new and young pizzaiolos make their pizzas in a wood fired Pompeii oven near the front door and enjoy the heat emanating from the fires. Tony's Table was off to one side which sat 10 people with reservations. We were led to the back of the huge dining area past the huge mural of Pizza Rock's Creation by Carlos Lopez and were seated up front just a few feet with a view of the kitchen and the man behind it all, Tony Gemignani.
Sheri & I had come prepared to meet the master. I had removed Tony's framed menu that hung in our kitchen from Tony's in San Francisco and rolled it up carefully in hopes of getting him to sign it. Also, I had made him an 8 x 10 color glossy of the photo from the most recent blog (Mr. Respect the Craft) to give him as a reminder of our visit. Taped to the back of it was my mural postcard in hopes of him thinking of me the next time a mural might be needed. You know, Murals by Vincent, with a little guerilla marketing!
As I had excused myself to go to the restroom just before sitting down, our friend Dean rushed in to let me know Tony was at our table! Hurriedly I zipped up and scooted out there only to miss him. I felt like Ziggy, When opportunity knocks, I'm in the bathroom. He did return though after dropping off a complimentary side of garlic fried green beans and came over to ask what we thought of them. Being that it was opening night he may have been confused in thinking our table was Tony's Table. We mentioned to him that we were glad he was establishing himself in Sacramento and that we didn't have to drive all the way to San Francisco to enjoy one or more of his pizzas. At that moment I handed him the envelope with the photo and business card...then it occurred to me, he might think this is a summons or papers being served on him! OMG! As quickly as the moment passed he removed the photo and gave it a chuckle. Seizing the moment Sheri and I jumped into the frame and had our picture taken with him. Just then he asked us if we've ever tried his calzone. "No, we hadn't," was our response so he bought us one to give it a try. All I can say is, it was the best calzone I have ever had. Bar none.
Later as we were diving into his Cal-Italia, his award winning Margherita and a Pesto based pizza called Primavera plus the baked calzone (called the Brooklyn), a roar came up from behind us when one of the pizza acrobats entertained the crowd with his super acrobatic pizza spinning skills. Up in the air, behind his back, under his leg and rolling down across his shoulders to the opposite hand, this dough flew at supersonic speed. What a show! I've seen it on You Tube and TV but to witness it in person and close up was like watching the Blue Angels perform in person.
Meeting Tony was so cool. I'm not an autograph seeker or a celebrity watcher. I think the last and only autograph I ever collected was from Lt. Carpenter (Bob Hastings) from McHale's Navy when I was about 12 years old but Tony is just a regular guy, down to earth, classy and very friendly. I don't think he even knows what a superstar he is.
For more oon Vincent's blog, please visit him at:
Thanks so much Vincent. This was a great story!
For more on Ton Gemignani, I recommend: