Anthony Mangieri is pizza royalty. For nearly 30 years, the master pizzaiolo has been turning out pies that flirt with perfection at Una Pizza Napoletana, his nomadic restaurant whose roots stretch back to New Jersey. These days you can find him on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where crowds grapple for a seat inside his Jordana Maisie–designed parlor adorned in tomato cans and artwork from friends, yearning to get their hands on one of his wholly original pies.
“When I started, the goal was to make a very traditional Neapolitan-style pizza. But I don’t really think of it as Neapolitan anymore,” he says. “It keeps evolving into its own thing. The way we handle the dough and the ingredients we use, we’re always trying to find this idea of what could make it perfect. That’s an elusive goal, so it keeps us interested.
This dedication to quality and authenticity permeates every aspect of Una, from the meticulously chosen ingredients to the enchanting dough dance. Here’s the drill: the menu has two starters, marinated olives and lupini beans—an ode to Mangieri’s Italian-American upbringing. Back then he hated lupini beans but has grown to love them, and now elevates them with seasonal radishes, fennels, and puntarelle. Sometimes there’s a special off-menu item such as the Italy-sourced burrata with ‘njuda, olive oil, sea salt, and lemon zest.
The main event, of course, is the pizza. San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella form a harmonious trinity, while the dough undergoes a 48-hour fermentation waltz. The Marinara is a favorite (pair it with anchovies). The Cosacca is exquisitely austere with just tomato sauce, sea salt, olive oil, basil, and Pecorino Romano on the finish. “That one is very delicate and really allows every single ingredient to be highlighted in an even way on the dough,” he says.
Mangieri calls the Margarita “wonderful” and “the benchmark on being able to tell if a place really knows how to handle the ingredients in the dough and if the baking is done properly.” There’s also a weekly specialty pie like the Tony Baloney, a fiery alliance of pepperoni, long hots, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
True to form, only two desserts are on offer and the fanfare around them is Beyoncé-level. The nutty-tasting Creamolatta, one of three flavors in the layered Italian gelato called spumoni, is dairy-based and made with Sicilian almonds roasted in-house; the fresh-juice sorbet rotates depending on the season and features ingredients like Amalfi Coast lemons. Both usually sell out by the time Una closes.
“Everything we do here is with restraint and an understated elegance,” Mangieri says. As the time-tested adage goes—there is beauty in simplicity.
In the latest installment of Designing Delicious, we visit Una Pizza Napoletana.