Is this an installation at MOMA or a Pizzeria? One thing is for sure, it's an experience you have to try once. Anthony Mangieri is the owner of Una Pizza Napoletana, a new hot dining spot in the not so hot Market/Van Ness area of town. He closed up shop in Manhattan and open a mirror image on the Left Coast. Very simple - five authentic napoletana pizzas (all vegetarian), some glasses of wine, and no other frills.
The restaurant is behind a derelict old roll up door, white walls, only 32 seats, no reservations, no waiting area. We arrived at 4:45 and the line was already around the corner for the 5:00 opening. It felt a bit like Sunday morning outside Tartine. Note to all, bring a book, iPad, or someone to converse with as the wait is long!
At the heart of this pizzeria is an open kitchen all to see - a custom made blue tiled wood fire oven from Naples, a old farmhouse sideboard use a prep table, a iron shelf with wood, and trays of pizza dough. Mangieri is on display making pizzas (only three at a time), tending the the wood fire, mingling with on lookers. It really does feel like a museum with a curator obsessed with putting on the best show, I mean pizza. That is of until he runs out of dough each night.
We ordered two - the margherita and filetti. Quite simply the best pizza dough I've ever tasted. Shefali has other thoughts so I'm writing my own opinion. He's a perfectionist and it comes through with every pie prepared. Only the freshest basil, zero zero flour, buffalo mozzarella, evoo, and san marzano tomatoes are used. However at $20 each, you are certainly paying for the right to say you've eat a hand prepared Mangieri pizza. Makes me wish Charlie Phan will be in the kitchen when Shefali and I go to Slanted Door in two weeks.
This place has hype and the line of loyal pizza snobs to prove staying power. Although the meal was good, neither of us would be willing to wait an hour outside, then another 35 mins inside for our pizzas. This is despite Sophie (the front of house lady) kindly checking in with the crowd, handing out menus, and explaining the story of UPN.
All that said, glad to have tried Magnieri's master creations...