We here at the VV (Our Man Sietsema and myself) are trying to keep our dining guide current by re-visiting places that we haven’t been to for a while, to see if they merit a change of heart in one way or another. Today, I got this nice note from Our Man Sietsema, who has recently been back to Una Pizza Napoletana.
(That gorgeous, mouthwatering shot of the pizza was not, sadly, taken at Una Pizza Napoletana, but at a pizza joint that’s much less convenient to get to. In Naples.)
Quoth Our Man:
Hey Sarah –
Just got back from revisiting Una Pizza Napoletana in the East Village, which I reviewed – but did not particularly like – almost four years ago. The joint was founded by a pizza wrangler from the Jersey shore who worshipped the pies made in Naples, Italy, the original home of pizza (though a good case can be made for pizza as we know it being invented at Lombardi’s, in Manhattan). To this end, he mounts a very spare menu, comprising only four pies. And, really, that’s the extent of it – no salads or antipasti whatsoever. As in Naples, the pies are personal-size and intended to be eaten with a knife and fork. It seems like pizzaiolo at Una Pizza Napoletana goes out of his way to make his pies uneven in size and shape, as if rebelling against the very circle itself.
The place looks Naples-ish enough, all tile and off-white paint, very plain except for a few tasteful prints recalling Campania’s religious heritage, with the austerity broken only by a string of Xmas lights up near the ceiling. A giant beehive wood oven commands the back of the room, waiting to be fed. The pies arrive literally smoking, with charred dough on one side or the other. I ate the standard margherita, which shocked me with its $21 price tag, Sicilian sea salt or not. It was good, but a little too substantially charred for my taste, and the “bone” (the thickest part of the crust) was a little too doughy. Still, as an example of the Naples style, it was about 95% there.
The other pizza I tried, the bianca, was a white pie (well, duh!) with a heavy dose of buffalo mozzarella on top. To begin with, Naples pizzerias almost never use buffalo mozzarella, preferring the fiore di latte that is the equivalent of our Italian-American mozzarella. While I don’t usually argue with dairy generosity, this pie had too much cheese, lending a rubbery quality to the pie. In Naples, when they apply cheese, it is in small chunks, as you can see below in a picture I took at Da Michele in Naples not too long ago:
In conclusion, while I find the pies at Una Pizza Napoletana interesting from an intellectual and historic perspective, and a worthy addition to the amazing pizza landscape of New York City, when I crave pizza, I’m likely to go elsewhere.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 14, 2008