Last week I was in California to judge a pizza competition and somehow managed to visit two of my favorite pizza makers while in the Bay Area. I landed in San Francisco and, after a quick run through Chinatown and North Beach, headed out to Walnut Creek to visit my grandmother. Amid the morning mix, I texted Tony Gemignani and Laura Meyer (world pizza champion, Tony’s culinary director). While I wouldn’t catch either in San Francisco, both would be at Slice House in Walnut Creek!
I popped in for a quickie slice, which turned out to be what Tony calls a Tomato Pie. I’ve seen the phrased used plenty of times and have a pretty solid understanding of what it usually means. In Philadelphia and some parts of Central New York, a tomato pie is a pan-baked bakery pizza with no mozzrella, served at room temp. In places like Trenton New Jersey, tomato pie is code for pizza. Let’s just simplify things here and call spades spades… tomato pie is pizza. Tony’s tomato pie is more like an extra herby pizza Margherita. Or I suppose you can say it’s a regular slice with fresh mozzarella and extra herbs. Whatever you want to call it, this was delicious.
Like any great pizza maker, Tony and Laura take great pride in their crusts. The slice I ate was absolutely delightful, with a thin and crispy base that had a pleasant toothiness. The herb balance was aggressive but that’s sort of Tony’s signature. He doesn’t tread lightly with flavor. What I really like about these slices is that they’re huge! In NYC, we get a 1/8 cut of a large pizza (18-22 inches). At Tony’s Slice House, it’s a 1/6 cut of the same size pizza. Really big.
Slice House by Tony Gemignani
1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Walnut Creek, CA 94596