Slice House by Toni Gemignani Comes to Walnut Creek
Our local world pizza champ brings his latest restaurant to 1500 Mt. Diablo.
Twenty years ago, Tony Gemignani was in my improv class at Las Positas College in Livermore. None of us, including our teacher, was aware that Gemignani was the reigning international pizza acrobatic champion—until the last day of class, when each student performed solo.
Needless to say, my juggling routine, which directly followed Gemignani’s spectacular spinning, fell flat. I ended up passing the class, but before our grades were posted, Gemignani had performed on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He nailed it and was invited to the couch.
“That class helped me a lot,” Gemignani, who lives in the East Bay, told me recently while chatting about his latest pizzeria, Slice House by Tony Gemignani, in Walnut Creek. “Leno wants you to be spontaneous. You have to be quick and witty and fast.”
By 2007, Gemignani had eight pizza acrobatic championships under his belt, so he set a new challenge for himself: to make the best-tasting pizza in the world. He knew the basics from working at his brother’s pizzeria in Castro Valley, but he decided to go to Italy to train as a master pizzaiolo. That same year, he entered the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, and met his goal, winning for the best Neapolitan pizza.
In the decade that followed, he opened 16 restaurants in the United States, beginning with Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, a full-service restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach.
The new Slice House at the corner of North Main and Mt. Diablo Boulevard specializes in giant fold-and-go triangles of New York–style pizza. My recent slice of the pepper-strewn “Picante”—one of Slice House’s rotating daily specials—impressed me nearly as much as Gemignani’s final performance in our improv class. I’m sure Leno would love it, too. slicehousewalnutcreek.com.