Yet another review has rolled in for the high profile return of Anthony Mangieri, the pizza craftsman behind Una Pizza Napoletana, and this time, Pete Wells at the Times has a different take: The pizza is good, the appetizers are good, and the wine is good — but they don’t quite make sense all together.
In the one-star review, Wells calls Mangieri’s simple pies “at least as extraordinary as the ones he used to make in the East Village. They may be better.” On the pizza:
I don’t remember the imported buffalo mozzarella’s giving the pies the flavor of melted cultured butter back then, the way it does now. And did the tomato sauce — pulp, really — always have the same natural, sun-ripened sweetness? Especially on the marinara, unobscured by cheese and seasoned only with dried oregano, fresh basil and raw garlic, it’s almost hypnotic.
The Concetta pie, which has four varieties of tomato treated four separate ways, probably would have been beyond his abilities as a chef in the Jersey Shore days. He makes it only on Fridays, which is too bad, because it’s great.
He only deems one miss from Mangieri one night, an under-salted version of a white pie.
But the pizza chef’s genius seemed to be too separate from the work of his partners owners Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra, who are best known for small plates and wine destinations Wildair and Contra, Wells writes. Desserts like a tiramisu and appetizers like the sea scallop with couscous won the critic over, but others seemed to be “charmless” or trying too hard. The wine, too, didn’t seem to fit in, requiring too much explanation and slowing down the meal, he adds.
It’s been quite the review cycle for Una; critics have been delivering just slightly different takes on the anticipated return. The New Yorker declared it “peak pizza,” and was thrilled with the pies, desserts, and appetizers. In an early look, Eater critic Robert Sietsema found the pies “the perfect evocation of pizzas” from Naples. But in a one-star review, Eater’s Ryan Sutton found the pies to be underwhelming considering the proliferation of options since Mangieri left, and New York magazine, in a two-star review, said that little about the restaurant felt “groundbreaking” in light of the growing pizza scene.
For Wells, the issue was that the restaurant didn’t work as a whole: “Mr. Stone and Mr. von Hauske aren’t doing bad stuff at Una Pizza Napoletana, but often they’re doing the wrong stuff. They and Mr. Mangieri have taken one of the most accessible styles of restaurant dining and made it complicated and a little intimidating.” One star.