The New York masses will soon descend upon the return of Una Pizza, Anthony Mangieri’s celebrated restaurant that helped launch the city’s neo-Neapolitan pizza renaissance before shuttering and relocating to San Francisco. If the lines are like anything they were on the West Coast, you can probably expect to wait an hour or longer. Maybe you’ll do just that, or maybe you’ll consider a pizzeria that’s been somewhat overlooked.
The pizzeria I’m talking about is Ops, which has been firing Neapolitan-style pies since it opened in Bushwick nearly two years ago.
It didn’t arrive with the fanfare of, say, Keith McNally’s now-shuttered Pulino’s, Demian Repucci’s Bruno, or more recently, Naples import Sorbillo, which a disappointed Robert Sietsema awarded just a single star in his review. (I only visited Sorbillo once but I’ll say this: The San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala exhibited the type of majestic complexity one would expect from those imported Italian products, while the dough boasted all the complexity of Wonder Bread.) But with a fantastic bread program and a service-included policy, Ops is one of the more compelling new pizzerias in NYC.
The restaurant is the work of Mike Fadem, Marie Tribouilloy, and Gavin Compton, a trio who’ve spent time at Achilles Heel, Estela, and Buvette. Fadem, who grew up in St Louis, uses a custom blend of flour that includes 10 percent whole wheat from upstate New York and 5 percent durum from Sicily. The dough is naturally leavened from a sourdough starter, mixed at 76 percent hydration, and cooked for about two minutes in a wood-fired pizza oven at 700 to 800 degrees.
For a test drive, I sampled the restaurant’s marinara pie ($14). It was close to perfect. The high hydration dough resulted in a characteristically puffy, air pocket-laced rim, and a springy, gently chewy interior crust. The sourdough bread felt more alive than the limp variety at Sorbillo’s, with the dose of whole wheat imparting an earthy but restrained sweetness.
It was an excellent foil for the crimson sauce — milled Italian canned tomatoes with salt, garlic, and olive oil — that balanced its natural acidity against its sun-drenched sugars. The crust held firm against the weight of the sauce, boasting more structural integrity than more classical Neapolitan pies, with their signature droopiness.
Make no mistake; I’m excited about having Mangieri’s Una back in New York. But for now, I’m grateful we have Ops. I’m calling it a BUY.
Buy, Sell, Hold is a column from Eater New York’s chief critic Ryan Sutton where he looks at a single dish or item and decides whether you should you buy it, sell it (or just don’t try it at all), or hold (give it some time before trying).