Tony's Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House
By Alex Hochman
Scarfing a folded slice of cheese pizza last week at newly opened Tony's Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House in North Beach, I itched to don platform heels and a red silk shirt, all Saturday Night Fever, and strut down Stockton Street Travolta-style. The takeaway pizzeria is a spinoff of Tony's Pizza Napoletana right next door.
The slice ($3.50) lived up to its titular mission of being New York style with a thin, slightly crispy crust; barely sweet tomato sauce; and just the right amount of mozzarella — Arinell finally has a worthy competitor in the slice arena.
There is no competition, however, for Tony's Chicken Parmesan Wedge ($7.50), easily the best of its kind that I've tried locally. A slab of breaded chicken breast is smothered with that same sauce and mozzarella from the pizza, and embedded in a game-changing, oven-heated Acme Italian roll. It tasted like it was baked on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
The only item that didn't live up to its Big Apple billing was the pastrami sandwich ($10), composed of a small portion of bland meat and a double layer of rubbery Swiss (you can request it without) on good rye, again from Acme. Though the menu says the pastrami is"housemade," it's actually from meat purveyor Del Monte. Tony's adds its own spices and bakes it in the coal-fired oven.
Pastrami aside, I look forward to hitting up Tony's again for Italian beef sandwiches and Gino's Italian ice. But first I'll have to get the Bee Gees out of my head.
Tony's Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House: 1556 Stockton (at Union), 835-9888.
Ex-Chairman Bao Chef Launches Eat Curbside
By John Birdsall
The chef of the Chairman Bao food truck has pulled out of the garage. Eric Rud has resigned from the 3-month-old mobile food business to go indie. His final day with Chairman Bao was Aug. 20; on Aug. 27, Rud debuted his own mobile food business, Eat Curbside, at Off the Grid at Fort Mason Center.
Consider it a soft launch for Rud. He is having a 1969 Airstream trailer retrofitted, and says he has a permanent S.F. location lined up. He hopes to launch for real in a month or so.
Before the 34-year-old chef moved to San Francisco to help launch Chairman Bao, Rud co-owned a Minneapolis mobile food biz called Curbside, also out of an Airstream, for two years. Before that, he was chef at Nob Hill Grille in San Francisco.
Rud declined to talk specifics about his split with Mobi Munch, the company started by restaurant industry veterans (they've launched trucks in L.A., too), who don't disclose their arrangements with truck operators like Rud. "I would just say I'm an entrepreneur," he said. "The allure of having my own truck versus working with someone else — well, once you've worked for yourself, it's hard not to."
By John Birdsall
Its origins in Gragnano, a city just outside Naples, shouldn't fool you. The panouzzo at Bruce Hill's Zero Zero — which began serving lunch last week — is, at heart, a hoagie. For the roll, the cooks flatten the house pizza dough into a kind of deflated pigskin and bake it off in the wood oven. Later, it's split and layered with the kinds of meats and cheeses unlikely to ever find their way to the sub shop: soppressata Napoletana from New York's Salumeria Biellese, Rovagnati mortadella and prosciutto cotto, Bellwether Crescenza, and Italian provolone. A turn on the flattop leaves the cheeses semimolten; house-made aioli and cherry pepper relish turn the thing into a garlic-breathing office hazard. And unless you spent the morning harvesting a grape vineyard, it's unlikely you'll be able to finish a panouzzo all by yourself. But then, when's the last time you polished off a foot-long hoagie?
Zero Zero: 826 Folsom (at Fourth St.), 348-8800.
Golden West's Barbecued Short Rib Sandwich
By Jonathan Kauffman
For a few weeks, Golden West, sister to the Sentinel, has quietly been opening in the mornings. The tiny takeout window at Trinity and Sutter sells coffee (Mr. Espresso) and a few pastries; customers who crane their necks around the counterwoman can get a look at the racks of baked goods awaiting distribution to owner Dennis Leary's other restaurants (Canteen, House of Shields).
Last week, Golden West finally added a lunch menu listing mushroom soup, two sandwiches (barbecued short ribs and eggplant caponata), and butterscotch pudding. I picked up a sandwich: a half-pound tangle of braised beef, a finely calibrated sauce, a glossy, airy bun with white and black sesame seeds scattered over the top. Pretty much the kind of food we've grown to expect from the Sentinel.
Despite the restraint with which the beef was sauced, this is not a sandwich to eat sitting at the sunny end of Trinity Street. It's one to take back to your cubicle, facing the wall, where you won't offend the public with your red-smeared lips and the sweet onions that pull away from the bun in long, pink loops.
On one of my earlier scouting missions, I was set to buy a bear claw, but when the counterwoman mentioned she also had pork and beans topped with a poached egg, well, that was the cup I walked away with.
The stew was warm and deep-hearted, cowboy grub for an effete age. The egg melted into the broth, glazing the great chunks of pork, thumbnail-sized white beans, and diced tomato, which were scattered on top for a welcome spark of acidity. It's the kind of breakfast that bolsters you for a day's worth of hard labor. By that, of course, I mean reading Gawker and frequent treks to the lunch room. I ate it for breakfast at 9:30, and wasn't hungry again until two.
Golden West: 8 Trinity (at Sutter).