The new restaurant from Tony's Pizza Napoletana serves pizza and Italian treats you can't refuse
Appropriate for a Chicago-influenced spot, there are four types of pies: deep dish, cast iron pan, stuffed, and cracker-thin ($17-35). You can't go wrong. Meat blissfully dominates most pies (unless you build your own), whether folds of Italian beef, thinly shaved in authentic Chi-town fashion, or house Calabrese, fennel, or Italian sausages, shown off in the likes of the Sam Giancana or Old Chicago pies. Italian Stallion pizza, which I prefer in cracker-thin form, showcases Italian beef, heightened by a drizzle of horseradish cream and insanely good sweet-hot peppers you'll find on a number of Capo's pies. Flour-based crust gets texture and complexity from a dusting of cornmeal, while Tony reveals a key to its perfection: European butter and a bit of lard. Fresh cheese oozes, unlike chewy wads of low-quality mozzarella I'm faced with in some of Chicago's venerable deep dish houses.
Elmer Mejicanos heads up a whiskey-centric bar program, housing over 100 American-dominant whiskies, while Tony mentions finding a few antique whiskey bottles dating back to the 1920s in the basement (when are we pouring?) Building your own Old Fashioned is a key menu focus, alongside a short-but-sweet cocktail list ($12). After trying every one on the menu, I've re-ordered only The Silencer. Carpano Antica takes the form of ice cubes melting in Campari, Seltzer Sister Soda and crystals of brandy — an ideally bitter, bright aperitif. A glass of Chianti or Montepulciano is well-suited to all that red sauce: Tony's longtime business partner Marni McKirahan runs the wine program, also highlighting rare Midwest wineries.
If I seem to be gushing, perhaps I am. Visiting three times in the first month alone, I've sampled almost every listed pizza and cocktail. Some new openings are exciting, fresh, visionary. A spare few respect the past, even perfect it.
641 Vallejo, SF. (415) 986-8998, www.sfcapos.com
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