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Pizza Rock opens to the public

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K Street’s newest restaurant Pizza Rock opened Friday with success and a lunch rush that lasted past 3 p.m.

“There was a line when we opened and it’s been like this all day long,” said Pizza Rock pizzaiolo (or pizza maker) Jim Hemstalk.

Pizza Rock is one of three establishments opening this week on K Street. The other two, District 30 and Dive Bar, will have grand openings on Wednesday.

“The turnout so far has been fantastic and the response from everybody has been wonderful,” Hemstalk said. “Everybody just raves about it as they walk out the door, so that’s a good sign.”

Pizza Rock’s co-owner Tony Gemignani, internationally renowned pizza-throwing champion and chef, said the inspiration for the place came about five years ago and the overall concept is “nightlife meets pizza.”

And that’s definitely the vibe you get when walking into the place.

At the front end of the restaurant to the right of the entrance is a Cirigliano Forni pizza oven and kitchen, imported from Italy, which cooks pizzas in 90 seconds at 900 degrees.

This oven is manned by two pizziolos, and their station is enclosed by a huge gray marble counter.

Gemignani said he thinks the front oven is great for kids to be able to come up to the counter, hang out and watch how pizza is made.

But the restaurant has three other ovens — one rotating oven that is made of stone and can cook about 50 pizzas at a time, and two regular-sized pizza ovens in the back of the main kitchen.

The dining room of the restaurant is where the “rock and roll” style really comes out with the punch-cut steel ceiling decorations, red linens, alternative rock songs playing over 10 large overhead speakers, high black ceilings, black chair-backings made to resemble the inside of a guitar case, six flat-screen TVs sitting plush against all-brick walls, black and gray checkered carpet and drawn black curtains separating the dining room from the two kitchens.

Meanwhile, a chain-link fence with barbed wire tops the long bar to the right side of the restaurant.

As though driving through the fence on top of the bar, the front end of an old-fashioned Peterbilt truck is painted with flames and doubles as the DJ booth.

As for the pizza?

Gemignani says Pizza Rock pizza is unique in a variety of ways, but mostly in the way it stays true to the ingredients, with six types of dough, ingredients imported from Naples and the best cheeses in the nation.

Each pizza is between 12 and13 inches around with six slices and serves two to three people, and the prices range from $11-30 a pop.

Pizza Rock also serves a Pizza Romana, which stays true to its Italian roots as a meter-long thin pizza with 18 slices and three separate arrangements of pizza toppings on it.

Downtown Sacramento Partnership Marketing director Lisa Martinez ordered a Margherita pizza and the Sicilian pizza to share with a group of co-workers.

She said the food was phenomenal and that she appreciated the variety of pizzas.

“They have a bunch of different varieties of Italian pizzas, and I think that it’s a little bit of a different style than what we’re used to seeing here in Sacramento,” Martinez said.

Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said he was also very satisfied with his experience.

“The food was incredible,” he said. “You know it’s day one so you’ve got to have a little perspective coming in, but the food came out delicious and it’s definitely somewhere we’ll be back.”

“The decor gives a feel that all along people have said Sacramento deserved,” Ault said. “I think some of the investment that’s being made in the central city as it relates to the quality of the product and the real destinations are very, very impressive. They did a wonderful job.”

Jay Sherman, the restaurant’s other acclaimed dough spinner, will perform regular shows of pizza acrobatics in the dining room.

Pizza Rock hours are as follows:
Monday and Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Wednesday through Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Photos by Ron Nabity

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