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Gourmet Pizza: $500 for a Dinner Experience in America. Pizzaiolo Sold Out: "It's the Future"

Elisa Erriu
copertina tony gemignani

"Who said pizza has to be common? Here, it's luxury, and a tasting costs a minimum of $500 per table." The pizzaiolo making waves in San Francisco tells all: Tony Gemignani tackles the topic of "fine dining pies" alongside his colleagues.

Cover photo: Wes Rowe

The news

Is it time to open your mind (and your wallet) to a new idea of pizza? In the United States, it's becoming increasingly trendy for pizzaiolos to offer special tasting menus, turning a simple "pizza night" into a high-end culinary experience. Any examples?

tony s pizza napoletana
@Tony's pizza napoletana

After 15 years in business, Tony Gemignani, renowned chef and owner of Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, has decided to further elevate the pizza experience by offering a tasting menu composed of seven pies to be enjoyed in a maximum of two and a half hours. It starts with a classic Neapolitan Margherita and continues with pizzas inspired by various cities across the United States, such as St. Louis, New Haven, and Detroit. "We've always aimed for quality, of course, but this is another level," says Tony. "In the last 10 years, there's been a renaissance of pizza," he told Robb Report. "Often people think this dish can't be synonymous with fine dining. But now it's changed, it's evolved. If you're passionate about pizza and want to experience something, this is the place to be. There aren't many places where you can sit down and try so many different styles and flavors all at once."

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These culinary experiences aren't for every budget, though. At Tony's, the minimum cost for a table is $500 (€460), with wine pairing starting at $45 per person. And Tony's isn't the only one backing this pizza revolution: in Los Angeles, William Joo of Pizzeria Sei is gearing up for his "pizza omakase" menu for the summer. His idea is to serve eight different slices of pizza, combining classics with special creations. During a recent tasting, Joo experimented with original toppings like potatoes, caviar, and Wagyu beef tongue. "The beauty of the tasting is that in one gastronomic session, you experience a multitude of flavors," says Joo, who aims to make his pizzeria a unique destination in the United States.

dan richer razza
Dan Richer

On the other hand, Dan Richer of Razza in Jersey City offers a personalized tasting experience, often reserved for large groups or special occasions. Though highly variable due to its tailor-made nature, Richer's tasting includes artisan bread and butter, meatballs, vegetable dishes, and, of course, various pizzas. Each experience is unique, shaped by conversations with customers and the preferences they express.

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Tony Gemignani

Joo has set a price of around $120 for his tasting, while a pizza lesson and tasting with Richer can cost up to $8,400. In a period of economic instability, some may wonder if this is the right time to offer such exclusive and "luxury" experiences. Tony Gemignani responds to these criticisms by emphasizing that there is an audience of enthusiasts willing to invest significantly in a special dinner, whether it's pizza, meat, or premium seafood. "It's not for everyone, but there are plenty of food connoisseurs out there. There are people who love pizza and have grown up eating their favorite pies. I knew there was room to offer a high-level pizza-themed experience. And it worked."

tony gemignani Sarahinloes Wikipedia

The numbers prove him right: immediately after the format was introduced, 80 reservation requests came in all at once. So, by March, it was already fully booked for the next 3 months. Whether it's a perfect Margherita or innovative combinations with Wagyu, these chefs are redefining the concept of a pizzeria, taking a classic comfort food to new heights of sophistication, slice after slice.

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