Tucked between an eclectic assortment of appliance stores and nightclubs lies a stark warehouse with a wood-fired oven, seven small dining tables, and Anthony Mangieri. Una is known in San Francisco for having authentic, no-frills, these-are-the-pies-I'm-making-today-because-I-said-so Neapolitan pizza. I decided to swing by and see for myself.
The first thing you see when you enter Una is the towering wood-fired oven, which other than the pizza itself is probably the only centerpiece a pizzeria should showcase in the first place. (No arcade here, sorry. They do have the space for it though.)
The wait was quick, and the pizza was quicker. An easy decision between the five pies on the menu, a three minute blistering in the oven, and $25 later (no, that's not a typo — this may be the most expensive 12" pie I've ever purchased), and behold was the towering creation that is Una Pizza Napoletana.
No wait today!
The Crust. Is. Huge. It's easily two inches tall, rivalling the height of deep dish I've had in Chicago. I've never seen a Neapolitan pizza with such a pronounced crust, and like most people, when you see something so surprisingly large and bulbous you're obligated to touch it. And like most people, you generally won't regret your decision.
The great wall of crust.
It was the crust that kept on giving, for one stroke revealed the softest, fluffiest dough I have ever experienced. If that crust were a pillow I would sleep on it daily, until of course I ate it all during a bad dream.
After getting over the shock factor, the actual taste was equally unique. It is surprisingly thick throughout, and didn't suffer from Neapolitan Swamp Syndrome toward the center. This pillowy, chewy crust was a delight, until you took a wrong turn and landed on one of the thoroughly charred edges. In its category, I'd say Una has probably one of the most unique crusts I've ever experienced, especially after spending less than three minutes in the oven. A++, would sleep on—er, eat, again.
Unfortunately, the novelty quickly wore off as you ventured into the rest of the pizza. The sauce landed squarely in the "decent" category, but was in no way remarkable. It was certainly fresh, but had no memorable flavors. There wasn't all that much of it, and what there was tried to masquerade as a swimming pool with its water content. It's decidedly average for Neapolitan pizzas, and there is definitely better out there.
Continuing the downward trend, the cheese was even less memorable. The quality of the mozzarella was standard for most Neapolitan joints, but I was less partial to the small "pill" format over the larger slices that are typically standard. It was also slightly tougher than other mozzarella, and added very little to the overall experience. I even caught a visual of an olive oil watering can during the pizza's preparation, but alas, its taste was nowhere to be found.
Una's crust is the spotlight, and was a truly unique invention in the world of Neapolitan pizzerias. The rest of the ingredients approximated average for what you would expect for a pizza of this style and price (or, frankly, half this price), and unless you're looking to experience a revolution in pizza dough, it's definitely worth continuing the search.
In other news, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece about Una Pizza Napoletana and Athony Mangieri's drive for perfection and creativity with pizza, and though we unfortunately don't have a category for a good story, it's definitely worth a read.