Restaurants & Bars

Una Pizza Napoletana (very long) review

pane | Sep 17, 201010:31 PM     103

I joined the crowd tonight at the opening week of Anthony Mangieri's new pizza shop in SOMA.

We arrived at 5:40 and the food didn't hit our table until quarter of 8; I would expect if you pop in for dinner on a weekend, this might be the case for a while. Perhaps it's more reasonable on weekdays?

We stood in line out on the sidewalk with about 20 people in front of us--a 20-30 person line was standard from the time we arrived until the time we left, but with only 30-something seats, it takes a while to get people moving. Unlike Pizzeria Delfina, we weren't offered wine while we waited outside, so we just hung out on the bleak block at 11th and Harrison, but had the pleasure of overhearing conversations with people who had followed the Mangieri news blotter and wanted to discuss allegations (flying in water from italy) and rumors (he was into field hockey players [pixies joke, ignore]) that grease the wheel of conversation for strangers standing together for 1+hours

When you near the front of the line, you get a view of the action: Mangieri in front of the gorgeous blue tiled pizza oven, which presides over the room like a monarch on a throne. Anthony and the oven are behind a metal fence that servers enter to drop off orders; the chef himself put together each pie; his wife and a friend were servers.

When we sat down after an hour in line, the server mentioned that the orders were backed up, so ours wouldn't be taken for some time so that Anthony wouldn't be stressed out by all the waiting tickets--we ended up waiting another 30 minutes for our order to be taken, then 30 for the food to arrive. The menu includes four pizzas, a fifth pizza that wasn't available that evening, and beers, wines and beverages. No starters, and a warning on the menu that pizzas were not to be altered in any way: no substitutions, no added or deleted oil or hot pepper.

Probably because I had read just a little bit about the place, I expected the "soup nazi" treatment, but the servers and hosts were terribly nice, and Anthony himself seemed good natured about diners walking up to snap his picture without asking as if he were an orangutan at a zoo. People waiting in line drifted in to chat with him, say hello if they knew him already or introduce themselves if they didn't.

Our hostess explained that the dough is raised without yeasts, and the process takes 48 hours, hence the 150 pie limit--once they're out, they simply can't whip up more.

We ordered two 12 inch pies, and I would recommend a pie per person. By the time we were served at the 2 hours point, we were starving, and ate everything within 15 minutes.

Pizzas are $20 each--we had the Filletti (cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozz, oil, basil, salt) and the Margherita (San Marzano sauce, buffalo mozz, oil, basil, salt). The two other options available that night were Bianca (minus tomatoes/sauce) and Marinara (minus cheese).

The pizza arrived scalding hot, the cheese still bubbling in molten pools. I knew the roof of my mouth would sear into curtains, but I was hungry enough to start eating after an insufficient cool-down anyhow. Everything about the flavor was in the crust: the sauce on the Margherita was minimal, and the Filletti cherry tomatoes added a bit of interest, but really you are here for the crust.

I don't think I've thought about crust except when chewing on the frame of a pizza, but the flavor of this was so robust and insistent it blew the doors off the thin skin of oil, cheese and tomato on top. Deep, earthy and quite chewy. My only style comparison is Frank Pepe's pizza place, which was near where I grew up--Pepe's is less flavorful, but I like Frank's slightly crispier texture better.

We were happy to visit and see the master in action--I happen to love a chef who is a little bit crazy, someone who wakes up in the morning burning to create something specific, beautiful and true. I'd probably wait a while to return until the calm settles in somewhat, and I'd be happy to see what Anthony is cooking up then.

Una Pizza Napoletana
200 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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