Friday, August 03, 2007

Tony & Pyzano's

I'm going to skip some of the stuff I had intended to write about and move on to last Friday when I ended up at Tony Gemignani's pizzeria, Pyzano's Pizzeria, in Castro Valley. Again, this post may include some information I've already revealed, but I want to try to tell the whole story.

I don't know Tony very well; I'd only spoke to him twice before, for a total of about 20 or 30 minutes. The first time I met Tony was at a pizza trade show in Columbus (in February 2006), when he recognized me from my short appearance in the pizza movie. (Tony is the "star" of the pizza movie. Tony is the superstar of the pizza industry.) We talked for 10 or 15 minutes that time. It was a strange feeling having Tony approach me because everyone else at these shows wants to meet him and schmooze with him. I've always left him alone because I know he has to deal with everyone else wanting to meet him. After meeting Tony for the first time, he really impressed me because he was such a nice, down-to-earth guy. Really nice guy.

The second time I met Tony was in February of this year at the same pizza show in Columbus. This time he walked up to me and asked me something about how my travels have been. Immediately I knew he must have seen the Aimless web site, so I responded, "You've seen my web site?" He confirmed that he had seen the web site, which he'd found because a handful of people had followed my link to his World Pizza Champions web site.

We only talked for about five minutes that time. In our short chat, Tony said he thought what I'm doing is pretty cool and he suggested that if I make it out to California again, I should stop by Pyzano's. I said I probably would.

* * * * *

Last Friday morning I walked about 9.5 miles from south Hayward to Pyzano's Pizzeria, having thought it would be more like 5 or 6 miles. I think it was about 1:00 when I arrived. Once I knew I was at the correct shopping center, I turned on the camcorder and walked up to the pizzeria, drenched in sweat, hoping Tony would be there so I could see his reaction when I actually showed up unannounced.

Entering the pizzeria, I stepped up to the counter and asked a young woman if Tony was around. She said he is usually there about 6 days a week, but he happened to be out the day I showed up. She asked if he was expecting me, so I said he's probably expecting me to show up someday, then I vaguely described what I was doing there. A little bummed-out about his absence, I asked her if it was OK if I hung around for a while to charge up my phone. She said it was all right, so I plugged in my phone and went to the bathroom to change into a dry shirt and brush my hair.

Several minutes later, when I returned to the dining area from the bathroom, the girl said Tony called while I was gone. "He said he'll be here in half an hour and he'll make you any large pizza you want." I asked her what she said to him; did she tell him there's some guy here with a huge backpack and a camcorder or what? I guess that's pretty much what she said, so he knew it was me.

See, that's how cool Tony is. He was off doing something in San Jose and getting ready for a friend's wedding that night, but he instantly made a bee line for the pizzeria when he found out I was there. Then he spent at least an hour talking to me and personally making me a "Little Italy" pizza, which contains a New York-style pizza sauce, Grande mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, Parmesan, and oregano, with olive oil drizzled over the top. It was so freakin' good. Probably the best pizza I've ever had. Like I said in a previous post, I ate the whole 16-inch pizza in one sitting. I'd love to get a chance to work at Pyzano's a little bit, perhaps even pro-bono, because it's really a smooth operation and I could learn a lot from it.

I don't have enough time to write everything I've been meaning to say here, so I'll try to finish it up and elaborate whenever I get to another computer. Time to go now.

I'll probably be back at Pyzano's after this weekend. I believe Tony said he'll be gone this weekend. I need to e-mail him before I leave.

The Quasi-Aimless Trailer

A few scattered thoughts

Lew, Father Winter didn't really "Jesus" me. Honestly, I have no idea why he turned a 180 on me. It may have been that he sensed I had no need for religion, but it may not have been. It may be that he just disliked my mannerisms. I don't know; I didn't ask. All I know is that he welcomed me to his property and then he took me away from his property.

I'm leaving my aunt and uncle's house today. Gonna take Amtrak down to Emeryville then get on a bus to San Francisco, I think. (Aunt Carolyn set it up.) I've had a very nice time here. This is the first time in my life that I've spent any significant time around Larry and Carolyn because they moved out here about when I was born. I also "met" my cousin Chris for the first time as an adult the other night. It's been over 20 years since I'd seen him. Really don't know him or his brother Scott, who lives in Texas.

I now know that a lot of my family have become regular readers of this blog. I think my mom and dad are both reading it, as well as Carolyn (my dad's sister) and Lisa (my dad's sister). I'll try not to let that affect my candid nature. As long as they aren't reading it in my presence, I usually don't feel very on-the-spot.

Yesterday was my Grandma and Grandpa Denlinger's 60th wedding anniversary. I called them and talked for a little while last night. Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa!

The Quasi-Aimless Trailer
If you'd like to contact me, call me at 614-738-3867.