Una Pizza Napoletana has returned to New York City. Back in the mid-aughts, self-taught pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri set the bar for pizza in New York when he moved his shop from the Jersey Shore to the East Village. He earned rave reviews and drew long lines of New Yorkers with his fluffy Neapolitan pies. But in 2009, Mangieri left that first incarnation of Una Pizza Napoletana and decamped to San Francisco, where his obsessive approach to pizza making earned similar adoration.
For his big-deal New York City comeback, Mangieri partnered with small-plates aficionados Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra, the purveyors of cool NYC restaurants Contra and Wildair. At the new Una Pizza Napoletana, Mangieri’s slinging his traditional pies alongside appetizers from Stone, desserts from von Hauske Valtierra, and as at the duo’s other restaurants, a solid roster of natural wines.
More than a decade since Mangieri’s pizza’s first wowed New York, how does the fourth incarnation of Una Pizza Napoletana stack up? Here’s what the critics are saying on the matter (and stay tuned for more — this post will be updated with additional reviews as they come in).
The Skip the Margherita News
Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton was decidedly not a fan of Una Pizza’a pies. In a one-star review, Sutton says the pies “aren’t as good as they should be, not at $25 apiece, and not in the crowded, experimental, ingredient-obsessed, regionally focused pizza biosphere that is contemporary New York.”
But it’s not all bad news. Sutton admits Mangieri’s bread is “without equal among the city’s Neapolitan spots,” and although inconsistent, he appreciates Una’s tomato pie (he merely takes issue with “subpar imported mozzarella, too much parsley, uneven salt” and advises diners skip the margherita pie altogether). He also praises Stone’s small plates as “destination-worthy” and names von Hauske Valtierra’s ice cream the number one reason to visit the restaurant, concluding, “this Lower East Side spot, in other words, generally functions better as a modern Von Hauske and Stone restaurant than a classically minded Mangieri joint.”
The Perfect Pie News
Fellow Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema is of the complete opposite opinion. “These are the perfect evocation of pizzas I’ve eaten in Naples, and a great addition to Gotham’s ever-expanding pizza portfolio,” he writes in a first look at the restaurant. The pizza he tried was “unabashedly soupy” with “charred and bulbous” crusts of “exquisitely flavored bread” — all good things. Sietsema is more mixed on Stone and von Hauske Valtierra’s contributions: while the appetizers are the “opposite of what [he] wanted to snack on,” the desserts, like a strawberry panna cotta and tiramisu, are “exceptional.”
The Goop News
Even the generally gluten-suspicious Goop has weighed in on the new pizzeria. In a brief writeup, Goop declares Una pizza Napoletana a “new and improved version” of the old East Village restaurant, thanks to “impressive” desserts, appetizers, and “perfect, simple margherita, bianca, and marinara pies.”
The Old Master, No New Tricks News
Grub Street’s Adam Platt gives Una Pizza Napoletana two stars — one for the appetizers and desserts, and one for the “best of the pies,” which in Platt’s opinion includes the margherita and Bianca, but not the Illaria, a “lumpish, undersalted, not-quite-ripe-cherry-tomato-and-arugula creation.”
For Platt, Mangieri himself is part of Una Pizza Napoletana’s appeal. “There’s a certain value to catching the performance of a quirky, uncompromising master of the genre practicing his craft night after night,” he writes. The small plates (which range from “very good” to “excellent”) and the “malty, salty, just-churned ice creams” enhance the performance. But ultimately, Platt agrees with Sutton when he writes “New York’s pizza culture has expanded and matured since Mangieri burst onto the scene, of course, and there’s not much about this latest reboot that feels revelatory or groundbreaking, especially at these prices.”
The Peak Pizza News
“It’s peak pizza,” New Yorker critic Hannah Goldfield writes of Mangieri’s sparsely topped pies. According to Goldfield Mangieri’s partners in the new venture make the restaurant all the better. “Together, the trio have created a place exceptional enough that charging twenty-five dollars for a twelve-inch pizza doesn’t seem outlandish,” she says. But while Mangieri set the bar for pizza in New York the first time around, at this Una Pizza Napoletana, it’s the desserts that are setting a new standard.
The Too Much of a Good Thing News
New York Times critic Pete Wells is dubious of the partnership between Mangieri, Stone, and von Hauske Valtierra. In a one-star review, he laments that although they each have their strengths, those strengths are “at war with one another.” While the pies are “at least as extraordinary as the ones [Mangieri] used to make in the East Village,” the wines, the small plates, and the overall atmosphere do not add up to a great pizzeria.
“Mr. Stone and Mr. von Hauske have put their own point of view on everything else, and it’s not the point of view of a pizzeria,” Wells argues. Stone’s small plates in particular baffle the critic. He writes, “What are bland chunks of white asparagus under a yellow powder of cured egg yolk and bottarga doing here? Not making new friends, I promise you.”
The problem, according to Wells, is that the men involved at the new Una Pizza Napoletana have made things too complicated. “Una Pizza Napoletana doesn’t need to be predictable,” he says in the story’s kicker. “But it could be more intuitive.”
• NYC’s Pizza Scene Deserves More Than Una Pizza [E]
• A New Kind of Pie Fight: This Pizzeria Is at War With Itself [NYT]
• Una Pizza Napoletana Sets a High Bar [The New Yorker]
• Una Pizza Napoletana Returns to New York With Less Trailblazing, More Polish and Comfort [Grub Street]
• Find Perfect Pies at the New Una Pizza Napoletana [E]
• Una Pizza Napoletana [Goop]