Pizza is a hotter topic than August weather and hurricanes, and anyone who has spent time residing in the big apple has formulated some opinion as to where the best slice is being crafted. Amid all the hype of the recent New York magazine proclamation that Una Pizza Napoletana is best, my buddy Scott (an Italian from Staten Island with serious pizza opinions) and I went investigating, appetite in tow.
It opens at five sharp, and already there was a line to fill the very few tables available. Three very disgruntled men were frantically trying to repair the air conditioner. I overheard that the dough might rise too much if the temperature was not controlled, and I started to worry that they were going to close up shop.
The menu serves as an historical overview of proper traditional Neopolitan pizza-making. In breve, use only the best, native, fresh ingredients. Follow up with a secret family recipe. Bake in a wood-fired brick oven. Open to the public for few hours and close when the dough runs out.
There are four variations of pizza offered, from Marinara, Margherita, Bianca to Filetti. The toppings are San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, garlic and sea salt.
The pizza came out within minutes, and in my opinion too quickly. The ingredients had not been given ample time to coagulate, making for a sloppy slice. Every other aspect of the pizza was sublime. I could taste every single element of the pizza, and thankfully so.
First came the tomatoes, pure, sweet and tangy. Then the olive oil, fruity and balanced. The fresh herbs tasted just picked off the mountainside. The mozzarella ethereal. Somehow I believe the bufala contributed to the wetness of the slice, not a feature I enjoyed. But this shortcoming was made up for by the dough, which is easily the best I have ever had, including my travels to Italy. The dough was a cross between great tandoori oven nan and the greatest pizza dough on earth. It made the trip well worth it, and caused much intellectual discussion over the product.
All in all, in a search for a harmonious pizza, I felt shorted, but in terms of a fabulous pizza experience, I was rewarded. At nineteen dollars for a twelve inch pie, the only problem remaining was how to afford more than one pie. Skill costs money, and at Una Pizza Napoletana, the skill level is at a zenith.