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Cox: Superstar of pizza

  • A Pizza Napoletana Margherita comes out of the Cirigliano wood-burning oven that was imported from Italy, at Tony's of North Beach at the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park. (ALVIN JORNADA / PD)

You can get relief from the cacophony that fills the gambling floor of the new Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park by ducking into one of the four sit-down restaurants spaced along the outer margins of the floor. Behind these restaurants' glass and solid walls, the sound of the clanging slots and hubbub of people talking fades away.

The four, dubbed “Casual Dining” by the casino management, are Tony's of North Beach for Italian food, the Daily Grill for American cooking, 630 Park Steakhouse, and M.Y. China — a Chinese restaurant by Martin Yan. All four will be reviewed over the coming weeks, starting today with Tony's.

Tony Gemignani is the restaurateur, and he's well known to many in the Bay Area for his three North Beach restaurants in San Francisco — Tony's Pizza Napoletana, Capo's, and Tony's Slice House.

Tony's Of North Beach

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In the world of pizza, chef Gemignani is a true superstar. He's a master instructor at the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli USA, and he won the 2007 World Pizza Cup competition in Naples, Italy, beating all competition, Italian and international. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records twice — first for tossing the largest pizza dough in two minutes of continuous spinning (36.5 inches), and for most consecutive rolls across the shoulders in 30 seconds (37 rolls). He was inducted into the Legends of Pizza in 2006.

So he's brought his World Cup-winning Pizza Napoletana Margherita ($18, 4 stars) recipe to Rohnert Park. He imported a Cirigliano wood-burning oven from Italy. This beauty reaches 900 degrees F. and cooks a 16-inch pizza in 90 seconds. He imports all the ingredients that won the World Cup, from the San Felice “00” flour (a combination of American, Italian and European wheat), which is used only in this specific pizza and is proofed in Neapolitan-made wood boxes, to the San Marzano tomato sauce and sea salt. And production is limited to 73 pies a day, period.

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