Una Pizza Napoletana
People walk into Una Pizza Napoletana and immediately tell the host that they’re “so excited to be here” as if those are the passwords required to get seated. And we get it. This LES restaurant is serving the best Neapolitan pies in NYC—and possibly the rest of the world, the Twittersphere, the Metaverse, and any other vaguely habitable place.
This is the sixth version of this restaurant (with locations in New Jersey and San Francisco along the way), and it’s now in a remodeled, candlelit room that prominently features a domed oven in the back. Only open Thursday to Saturday, Una Pizza has a menu that’s a lot shorter than in the past. Now, there are just two appetizers, a handful of pizzas, and a couple of desserts.
You should always have at least one margherita on your table. When it arrives, dive in right away, starting from the middle where the mix of San Marzano tomatoes, slightly gooey buffalo mozzarella, and wet dough will remind you of a simple but perfect bite of pasta. If you’re in the mood for something without sauce, try the bianca with some anchovies on top. We love tearing little pieces of crust and dipping them in the fishy and salty pool of EVOO that forms in the middle of this pie.
Words alone won’t give you a full idea of how this poofy, wood-fired crust tastes, but we still have to try (because it’s our job). Adjectives like airy, soft, fluffy, chewy, and pillowy come to mind, but we’re going to go with “supernatural” for now. The dough is naturally leavened, never refrigerated, and made with very high hydration, and it rises for almost 48 hours before it’s ready. Owner Anthony Mangieri never stops messing around with the mixtures of flour to try and make the crust lighter. He should just sit back and take the win. It’s hard to imagine the crust getting any better.
You probably know some people who think they make certain dishes better than any restaurants can. (We hear this about steak all the time.) And maybe they’re right in certain cases. But we don’t care if you have irrational confidence and own a $5,000 oven that reaches over 1,000 degrees—you’re never going to produce anything at home like what you can get at Una Pizza Napoletana.
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House Marinated Olives
Start your meal with this bowl of assorted olives with rosemary sprigs and an orange peel. It's just one of two appetizers (lupini beans being the other), although a special like a charcuterie plate is available on some nights. These olives are great to munch on between bites of pizza—especially since there aren’t any salads here.
The margherita is kind of like the vanilla ice cream of pizzas. But think of the absolute best vanilla ice cream you’ve ever had. That’s how we feel about this pie. We know there are “eat everything but the crust” people out there—but doing that here is like dropping a $20 bill on the sidewalk, looking at it, and walking away.
The bianca comes with buffalo mozzarella, garlic, basil, Sicilian sea salt, and EVOO, and it’s just as good as the margherita. Think of this as a blank slate that you can enhance with grated parmigiano reggiano, Calabrian hot peppers, anchovies, or pepperoni. You can add these topping to any pie except for the cosacca and the special pizza, which changes every night.
This tomato pie is the same as the margherita, except there’s a little bit of grated pecorino romano on top instead of buffalo mozzarella. The truth is, no specific pizza here is necessarily better than any other—because they all have the same otherworldly crust. Whatever you want or don’t want on your pizza, you can’t go wrong.
Flavored like an almond biscotti, this nutty gelato is topped with a good amount of whipped cream, and it’s the only dessert that’s always on the menu. It’s a must-have if you like almond-flavored things, and you should get it with an espresso.
The texture alone is enough reason to order this dessert. Almost as smooth and creamy as the gelato, the fruit sorbetto comes in a small, metal chalice and is a refreshing way to end your meal. The flavors, like lemon with mint, change daily.
Note: For a chef's table-like experience, consider the Una Pizza Tavola. It starts at $750 for four people.