Tony Gemignani, owner of his eponymously named pizza temple, dropped by our table last weekend as we were midway through his newest creation, the Calabrese and quince pie. Noticing the sweat on our brows, he told us "I'm going to have the servers warn tables before ordering this." To quote the tween at our table, "No duh!"
It all looks innocent enough. The pie is given a whirl in a 900-degree wood-burning oven leaving the crust charred and chewy like an exemplary naan. Toppings include a thin layer of Monterey pepper jack, seemingly there more for texture than taste, and large chunks of Gemignani's exceptional, coarse house-made Calabrese sausage that's certainly hot but not in a tongue-searing manner.
The action intensifies with the numerous thin slices of vibrant green Serrano peppers found scattered about. Though offset by splotches of fruity quince paste, a drizzle of honey from Tony's rooftop hives, and a squeeze of the provided orange slices (that should have been a hint!), the fervor from the peppers blasts through, inducing beer gulping and forehead wiping. Ever the masochists, we polished the whole thing and plotted a return visit for another round.
Tony's Pizza Napoletana, 1570 Stockton Street (at Union), 835-9888