Tony Gemignani has won multiple championships in Italy for his pizza making prowess, but he’s also authored books on the subject, teaches would-be pizzaiolos how to make various styles (and certifies them) all while overseeing a pair of San Francisco pizzerias that produce upwards of 17 styles of regional pizza between them. Steve spent an afternoon talking (and eating) pizza with the man many refer to as the ultimate Pizza Ambassador.
Steve talks with Dan Costello, the President and CEO of Home Run Inn, one of the nation’s largest frozen pizza companies (in 40 states), but also the great grandson of the founders of this Chicago-based pizzeria. They started on the city’s Southwest Side, offering square-cut, thin pizzas, which have come to define Chicago pizza (among locals). They have no idea how a deep-dish is made, nor would they ever attempt to make one.
Steve talks with Massimo Laviglia, proud son of Tuscany, who only moved to the U.S. in 2012. His story of hard work, perserverence and most important of all, his courage to ask for help from some of New York’s top pizza makers, ended up saving his fledgling business from going under. Laviglia is now widely considered one of the top pizza makers in New York City, and L’industrie is a must-stop if you’re ever in Brooklyn.
Derrick Tung gave up med school, then a promising career in healthcare administration to pursue his love of pizza. He reached out Paulie Gee in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, seeking his advice, and it led to a partnership in Chicago. Tung has expanded beyond the store’s usual wood-fired pies to include a remarkable Detroit-style that’s winning awards.
Steve sits down with Paulie Gee, of the namesake wood-fired pizzeria in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at his new slice joint just a couple of blocks away. Paulie talks about ditching his corporate I.T. job for a life in pizza. He has become a mentor to many young pizza makers in the country, and has even sprouted additional locations in three other cities.
Steve sits down with John Arena, a native New Yorker who moved to Las Vegas 40 years ago to make his name in pizza. What he learned along the way was invaluable, and he’s taught a generation of young pizza makers how to navigate the business. As the owner of Metro Pizza, he’s also overseen the growth of the industry in his adopted hometown, now host to the annual International Pizza Expo and the Las Vegas Pizza Festival.
Steve talks with Arthur Bovino, the guy behind thepizzacowboy.com, @nycbestpizza and the driving force behind The Daily Meal’s annual “101 Best Pizzas in America” list. They met at Leo in Williamsburg, to try some Roman pizza, and talk about the business of covering the pizza world in New York City.
Steve talks with Vincent Rotolo, the driving force behind Good Pie in Las Vegas’ Pawn Plaza. Rotolo is a native New Yorker (grew up working at John’s on Bleeker) who brought his love and passion for pizza to the desert. He is part of a growing roster of pizza makers there, raising the level of pizza quality in the city that hosts the International Pizza Summit every Spring.
Leo Spizzirri is the driving force behind only the second North American branch of the famed Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli. This pizza school has a location in San Francisco, but Spizzirri now has an accredited program about 45 min. west of downtown Chicago. He talks about how he got into the business, fell in love with Italy’s regional styles, then convinced Italian authorities to let him open a school in the Midwest. Some classes are for die-hards who want to open their own pizzerias, while others are just hobbyists who want to improve their pizza-making skills.
Steve talks with Chicago native Jared Leonard about his latest pizzeria – Grabowski’s – located in the RiNo District of Denver. Leonard is bringing the pizza of his childhood (that means tavern-style, thin, square-cut pizzas) to his newly adopted home.