The Dish: Chef Tony Gemignani

Chef Tony Gemignani was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and his specialty is arguably Americans’ favorite food: pizza. He started in the early 1990s at his brother’s pizzeria, entertaining diners with pizza-throwing tricks. He’s since won numerous awards -- including World Champion Pizza Maker at competitions in Italy -- and was named U.S. Ambassador of Neapolitan Pizza by the city of Naples, where it was invented.

These days, he’s the chef and owner of a pizza empire with 16 locations, including his flagship restaurant, “Tony’s Pizza Napoletana” in San Francisco. He’s a celebrity chef, too, with frequent appearances on network TV and The Food Network.

Here are some of chef Gemignani’s signature recipes:


Grandma Pizza

Makes one 12 x 18” pizza -- 12 squares

Ingredients

1 28-ounce (795-gram) ball of Sicilian dough without starter (see accompanying recipe)
1/4 cup (60 grams) olive oil
1 1/4 cups (285 grams) hand-crushed tomatoes 
1 teaspoon (3 grams) finely chopped garlic
Dried oregano, for seasoning and sprinkling
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces (225 grams) fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese or fior di latte, or 10 ounces (285 grams) whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (2-1/2 cups)
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for dusting
Garlic Oil (see accompanying recipe) for drizzling

Directions

  1. Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and leave wrapped at room temperature until the dough warms to 60°F to 65°F. Meanwhile, set up the oven with two pizza stones or baking steels and preheat to 500°F for one hour.
  2. Pour the olive oil in the center of a 12 by 18-inch well-seasoned steel Sicilian pan. 
  3. The dough is very sticky, so the easiest way to remove it from the sheet pan is to hold the sheet pan upside down over the Sicilian pan and use a bowl scraper to release the dough, letting it fall into the prepared pan.
  4. Using the bowl scraper, flip the dough over to coat both sides with the oil.
  5. Using flat, fully extended fingers of both hands, press the dough outward in all directions, extending it toward the corners to make an even layer.
  6. The dough may be stretched toward the corners. If you work gently, the dough should stretch without tearing.  Don’t worry if the dough does not reach the corners. Set, uncovered, in a warm spot and let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. After resting, the dough is ready to push outward a second time. It will not be degassed, so use a light touch to push the dough, rather than pulling it, repositioning it in the pan as needed to achieve an even thickness and to reach the corners.
  8. Let the dough rest again (still uncovered) for about one hour, until the dough has risen but has not quite doubled. The timing will depend on the temperature of the room. At this point, do not touch or press on the dough again, even if it has pulled away from the edges, or it may not rise properly.
  9. In a bowl, toss the crushed tomatoes with the garlic and a pinch each of oregano, salt, and pepper.
  10. If you’re using fresh mozzarella, tear it into 16 irregular chunks and arrange them on the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese lightly with salt. If you’re using shredded mozzarella, mound it in the center of the dough and use your fingertips to spread it out evenly over the surface, leaving a 3/4-inch border.
  11. Spoon the tomatoes evenly on top of the cheese (you will not cover the entire surface) and drizzle with extra virgin oil.
  12. Place the pan on the top stone and bake for eight minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees, transfer it to the bottom stone, and bake for seven minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bottom is richly browned and crisp (use a wide metal spatula and lift a corner to check). If liquid has leached from the fresh cheese, transfer the pizza to the top stone for 1 minute to evaporate some of the moisture.
  13. Run the spatula around the edges of the pizza to make sure it has not stuck in any area. If you suspect a problem, drizzle a bit of olive oil down the side of the pan and work slowly to loosen in that area.
  14. Lift the pizza onto the spatula and transfer it to a cutting board. Make two evenly spaced cuts the length of the pizza (to make three strips of equal width), then make three evenly spaced cuts across the width of the pizza (to make four strips of equal width), to make 12 squares.
  15. Finish with a dusting of Pecorino and oregano and a drizzle of garlic oil.

Sicilian dough without starter

Small batch makes 28 ounces (795 grams) -- enough for one grandma pizza

Ingredients

6 grams (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
100 grams (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) warm water (80°F to 85°F)
578 grams (4-1/2 cups) flour with 13 to 14 percent protein, preferably All Trump’s or Pendleton Flour Mills Power
12 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) diastatic malt 
305 grams (1 1/3 cups) ice water 
12 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) fine sea salt
6 grams (1/2 tablespoon) extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil, for coating the pan

Directions 

  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm water, and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. The yeast should dissolve in the water and the mixture should foam. If it doesn’t and the yeast granules float, the yeast is “dead” and should be discarded. Begin again with a fresh amount of yeast and water. 
  2. Combine the flour and malt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, pour in most of the ice water, reserving about two tablespoons, followed by the yeast-water mixture. Pour the reserved water into the yeast bowl, swirl it around to dislodge any bits of yeast stuck to the bowl, and add to the mixer. 
  3. Continue to mix the dough at the lowest speed for about 1 minute, until most of the dough comes together around the hook. Stop the mixer. 
  4. Use your fingers to pull away any dough clinging to the hook, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula. 
  5. Add the salt and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute to combine.
  6. Stop the mixer, pull the dough off the hook, and add the extra virgin oil. Mix the dough for one to two minutes, stopping the mixer from time to time to pull the dough off the hook and scrape down the sides of the bowl, until all of the oil is absorbed. The dough won’t look completely smooth.
  7. Coat a half sheet pan with a film of olive oil. Using the bowl scraper, scrape the dough onto the prepared pan. The dough will be extremely sticky—too sticky to knead . 
  8. Working with wet hands, stretch and fold the dough. Cover the pan with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for one hour.
  9. Using a dough cutter, lift the dough into a large bowl, press it down slightly, and rub a little water over the top. Cover with a double layer of plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours. 
  10. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the dough for 30 seconds on the lowest speed to degas the dough, removing any air bubbles. 
  11. Lightly oil a half sheet pan. Move the dough to the scale, weigh the dough, and adjust the quantity of dough as necessary for the recipe. You may have a little extra dough. 
  12. Form the dough into a ball or balls and return the ball(s) to the oiled sheet pan (spacing them three inches apart if you have made two balls). 
  13. Wrap the pan airtight with a double layer of plastic wrap, sealing the wrap well under the pan. Put the pan in a level spot in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Garlic oil

Makes 1/4 cup (60 grams)

Ingredients

1-1/2 teaspoons (five grams) minced garlic
1/4 cup (55 grams) extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Combine the garlic and oil in a small bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a day or two.


New Jersey Tomato Pie

Makes one 13-inch pizza -- 6 slices

Ingredients 

1 (13-ounce/370-gram) ball Master Dough, preferably with starter (see accompanying recipe), made with Tiga
3 parts flour mixed with one part semolina, for dusting
6.5 ounces (185 grams) whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (9 slices)
1 cup (245 grams) New York–New Jersey tomato sauce (see accompanying recipe), at room temperature 
4 ounces (115 grams/1/2 cup) hand crushed tomatoes (see accompanying recipe), at room temperature (optional)
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for dusting
Dried oregano, for dusting
Garlic Oil (see accompanying recipe), for drizzling

Directions 

  1. Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and leave wrapped at room temperature until the dough warms to 60°F to 65°F. Meanwhile, set up the oven with two pizza stones or baking steels and preheat to 500°F for 1 hour.
  2. Dust the work surface with the dusting mixture, then move the dough to the surface and dust the top. Sprinkle a wooden peel with the dusting mixture.
  3. Open the dough on the work surface to a 13-inch round with a slightly raised edge. Move the dough to the peel. As you work, shake the peel forward and backward to ensure the dough isn’t sticking.
  4. Arrange the mozzarella slices over the top, leaving a 3/4-inch border.
  5. Spoon the tomato sauce onto the center of the pizza. Then, using the back of the spoon in a circular motion and working outward from the center, spread the sauce to the rim.
  6. Slide the pizza onto the top stone. Bake for 6 minutes. Lift the pizza onto the peel, rotate it 180 degrees, and then transfer it to the bottom stone. Bake for another 6 minutes, until the bottom is browned and crisp and the top is golden brown.
  7. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into 6 wedges. Top with the crushed tomatoes, then finish with a dusting of pecorino and oregano and a drizzle of garlic oil.

Master Dough with starter 

Makes about 29 ounces (820 grams) dough, enough for two pizzas

Ingredients

2.2 grams (3/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
70 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm water (80°F to 85°F)
453 grams flour (3-1/2 cups) with 13 to 14 percent protein, preferably All Trumps, Pendleton Flour Mills Power, Giusto’s High Performer, King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten, or Tony’s California Artisan Flour
10 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon) diastatic malt
210 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) ice water, plus more as needed
90 grams Tiga (see accompanying recipe)
10 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
5 grams (1 teaspoon) extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm water, and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. The yeast should dissolve in the water and the mixture should foam. If it doesn’t and the yeast granules float, the yeast is “dead” and should be discarded. Begin again with a fresh amount of yeast and water. 
  2. Combine the flour and malt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
  3. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, pour in most of the icewater, reserving about 2 tablespoons, followed by the yeast-water mixture. Pour the reserved water into the yeast bowl, swirl it around to dislodge any bits of yeast stuck to the bowl, and add to the mixer. Mix for about 15 seconds, stop the mixer, and add the tiga.
  4. Continue to mix the dough at the lowest speed for about 1 minute, until most of the dough comes together around the hook. Stop the mixer. Use your fingers to pull away any dough clinging to the hook, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula. Check the bottom of the bowl for any unincorporated flour. 
  5. Turn the dough over and press it into the bottom of the bowl to pick up any stray pieces. If the dough isn’t holding together, add small amounts of water (about 1/2 teaspoon to start) and mix until the dough is no longer dry and holds together.
  6. Add the salt and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute to combine.
  7. Stop the mixer, pull the dough off the hook, and add the oil. Mix the dough for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer from time to time to pull the dough off the hook and scrape down the sides of the bowl, until all of the oil is absorbed. The dough won’t look completely smooth.
  8. Use a bowl scraper to transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface, then knead it for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Cover the dough with a damp dish towel and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  9. Use the dough cutter to loosen the dough and to cut it in half.  Weigh the dough, adjusting the quantity as necessary to give you two 13-ounce pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Any remaining dough can be discarded.
  10. Form the dough into balls. Set the balls on a half sheet pan, spacing them about three inches apart. Or, if you will be baking the balls on different days, place each ball on a quarter sheet pan. Wrap the pan(s) airtight with a double layer of plastic wrap, sealing the wrap well under the pan(s). Put the pan(s) in a level spot in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

TIGA 

Makes 90 grams

Ingredients

0.14 gram (one-third of 1/8 teaspoon) active dry yeast or 0.42 grams fresh yeast, broken into small pieces
39 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) cold tap water
55 grams (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) flour used in dough recipe

Directions

  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water, and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. The mixture should bubble on top. If it doesn’t and the yeast granules float, the yeast is “dead” and should be discarded. Begin again with a fresh amount of yeast and water.
  2. Add the flour and stir well with a rubber spatula to combine. The consistency will be quite thick.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 18 hours. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool slightly before using.
  4. If you are not using the starter right away, you can store it in the refrigerator, though I suggest keeping it for no more than 8 hours. Bring it to cool room temperature before using.

New York-New Jersey tomato sauce 

Makes 1 cup (245 grams), enough for one New Jersey Tomato Pie 

Ingredients

4.5 ounces (120 grams/1/2 cup) ground tomatoes, preferably 7/11 or DiNapoli
2.2 ounces (65 grams/1/4 cup) tomato paste, preferably SuperDolce
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon (5 grams) extra virgin
Olive oil
2 ounces (55 grams/1/4 cup) hand-crushed tomatoes 

Directions

  1. Combine the ground tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and oil in a deep bowl or other deep container and puree with an immersion blender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes.
  2. The sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using.

Hand-Crushed Tomatoes

One 28-ounce can of tomatoes should yield 1 generous cup (250 grams) crushed tomatoes

Directions 

  1. Start with the best canned plum or pear tomatoes you can find. I recommend Valoroso or DiNapoli brands. Whether you start with canned or cooked fresh tomatoes, you’ll want to rinse your hands frequently as you work, so set up your station near the sink or have a bowl of cold water nearby. 
  2. Put a strainer over a bowl. Working over a second bowl, lift a tomato, pinch off the head (stem end) and any unripe areas, and let those pieces drop into the bowl. Some tomatoes may not be deep red. I prefer not to use those,but it’s your call.
  3. Open up the tomato, remove any skins, seeds, or tough sections and add them to your discard bowl. Break the cleaned tomato into small pieces or strips and put them in the strainer. Keep in mind that these will not be blended, so if they look too coarse for your taste, run them through your fingers to make smaller pieces. 
  4. Continue cleaning and crushing tomatoes until you have the amount called for in your recipe. Press gently on the tomatoes to strain as much liquid as possible. Discard the contents of the discard bowl and the bowl below the strainer. 


Caesar Salad 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

6 cups hearts of romaine, cut into 3/4”
1/2 cup caesar dressing (see recipe below)
1/2 cup parmesan, sliced
20 each croutons

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl, drizzle dressing down the side.
2. Add romaine lettuce and fold into the dressing.
3. Add one and a half cups of dressed greens into the center of each plate.
4. Top with croutons and parmesan.

Note: Can be garnished with high quality marinated anchovy fillets.

Ingredients for Caesar dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 each garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions for dressing 

  1. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.
  2. Chill until needed -- can be kept up to seven days.


Bucatini

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6 oz Bucatini pasta uncooked
2 each spicy Italian sausage link
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 oz Italian sausage
2 oz ground beef
1 oz smoked pancetta, sliced into 1/4”
1 each garlic clove, minced
2 oz low sodium chicken stock
1/2 oz Calabrian ground chilies
6 oz marinara sauce
2 oz heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fine black pepper

Directions

  1. Put pasta into boiling water and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook spicy Italian sausage link in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until internal temperature has reached 160 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Add both sausage and ground beef by pinching dime-sized pieces and adding them to the oil, until all of the ground meat is added. Cook meat until about halfway done. 
  5. Add onions and stir them in. When the onions are translucent, add the pancetta, garlic and Calabrian peppers.
  6. When the garlic is aromatic, deglaze the pan with chicken stock and reduce by half.
  7. Add marinara and bring to a simmer. Add heavy cream and continue simmering.
  8. Season and remove from heat.
  9. Toss the drained cooked pasta with the sauce and top with spicy sausage link.


Tiramisu 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

36 each lady fingers, crispy
1 recipe tiramisu cream (see below)
6 shots espresso
2 oz frangelico
a/n espresso grounds

Directions

  1. In a 7” square pan, quickly dip the ladyfingers into the espresso and arrange in neat rows to cover the bottom -- should be 12 total.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups tiramisu cream and spread out into an even layer. 
  3. Quickly dip the ladyfingers into the espresso and arrange in neat rows to cover the cream layer -- should be 12 total.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups tiramisu cream and spread out into an even layer.
  5. Quickly dip the ladyfingers into the espresso and arrange in neat rows to cover the cream layer -- should be 12 total.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups tiramisu cream and spread out into an even layer. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
  7. Cut into four pieces and using a spatula, carefully move each into a separate plate. Sprinkle with espresso and drizzle with frangelico. 


Negroni

Ingredients

1.5 oz gin
1.0 oz carpano antica
0.75 oz Campari

Directions

  1. Mix, stir and serve over large ice cube, garnish with orange peel.