that's a lot of pizza
Houston pizza maestro retools his wildly successful new Heights restaurant after overwhelming response
Pizza-loving Houstonians have accomplished something that once seemed impossible. They’ve left chef Anthony Calleo speechless — sort of.
The first week of service at Gold Tooth Tony’s, Calleo’s new Detroit-style pizzeria in the Heights, has so vastly exceeded his expectations that he’s had to rethink his plans for operating the restaurant. Even with limited hours of 4-10 pm, it’s been selling out of pizza. As a reminder, Calleo has sold Houstonians a lot of pizza between the Pi Pizza food truck, the Pi Pizza restaurant, and in his current role as executive chef and co-owner of Montrose favorite Rudyard’s.
“I’ve done this before. I’ve sold a bunch of pizza. We know how to do that. The fact that we’re running out of food, we didn't really expect,” Calleo tells CultureMap. “What we thought we’d do in a 14-hour day after a couple months of practice is what we’re doing in a three-and-a-half hour day.”
He adds that on Sunday Gold Tooth Tony’s sold more pizza in a single hour than in any hour he can remember from the Pi days. That’s a lot of pizza for a restaurant that occupies a 1,000-square-foot former doughnut shop.
Having survived a hectic weekend, Calleo closed on Monday and Tuesday to give its cooks a well-deserved break. The restaurant reopened for dinner today (Wednesday, September 20) with dough that he and chef Adam Bitner made for the restaurant.
In the meantime, he’s ordered more pizza pans and is looking into adding a larger walk-in cooler to deal with the unexpected demand. Whatever he decides, it will be done with his staff in mind.
“I’m not going to grind those dudes into dust. They deserve a break. They busted their ass for us at a brand new job,” he says. “They did great, period.”
Part of meeting the demand for pizza means temporarily slimming down the menu by cutting dishes such as queso and mac and cheese. Although Calleo had planned to roll out lunch as soon as this week, the restaurant will remain dinner only for now.
“I didn’t get into this business to tell people no, but it’s mathematics and physics. If I could argue with those, I wouldn’t be a chef — I’d be a super villain,” he says.
Meanwhile, the search has already begun for a second location. Calleo aims to strike while the iron is hot — and Houstonians are eating him out of pizza.