Una Pizza Napoletana

For those living under an empty pizza carton, Una Pizza Napoletana moved from New York to a strange, shrine-like location in San Francisco.  Its cult-like following certainly survived the move as evident from our 30 minute wait just to sit down on a Wednesday night.  It was a good thing we came when we did because a bigger crowd soon developed after we sat.

una pizza napoletana

You might think that the 30 minutes is a perfect time to peruse the menu, but really, all you need is 3 seconds because there are only 5 things to eat on the menu which are combinations of sauce, tomatoes, cheese, smoked cheese, no cheese, and basil. The simple menu reflects the simplicity of the ingredients.

Watching Anthony Mangieri sling dough and skillfully char the almost-cooked pie near the ceiling of his carefully constructed oven is like watching any master craftsmen. They make it look deceptively easy, but I’m sure there are years of experience involved.

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My pizza, a margherita, came out of the oven and went straight into my mouth.  The bubbles of charred crust were shatteringly crisp, while the rest of the crust had the perfect amount of chewiness.  The tomato sauce was perfectly seasoned and perfectly portioned. I hate it when there’s too much sauce on my pizza.  Although the ingredients were as simple as can be, I would include it in my top 5 pizzas of my life.

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A coworker of mine complained that his pizza was burnt.  Maybe we have differing char-scales. I thought my pizza was just the right amount of char: a nice smokey flavor without any of that dry, powdery bitterness of burnt flour.

210 11th St
(between Howard St & Kissling St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
Neighborhood: SOMA
Una Pizza Napoletana

The Luggage Room Pizzeria

The Luggage Room in Pasadena on a Friday night is crowded, loud, and guaranteed to make you wait 15 minutes for a table unless you want to stand a constant vigilance at the bar. (For those unwilling to wait, the pizzeria is actually attached to Le Grande Orange Cafe which as a less pizza-oriented menu.)

Is the 15 minute wait worth it? For a nearby pizzeria with good pizza and a good wine list, yes.   The pizzas range from the ubiquitous margarita to the very Californian avocado pizza.  I ordered the mushroom party pizza ($13 – cremini mushrooms, onion, sweet fennel and an added egg at no extra cost) while Will ordered margarita ($12) with black olives and a rocket man ($12 – fresno chiles, broccolini, roasted garlic, and oven dried tomatoes ).

The Luggage RoomThe Luggage Room

The pizzas came out 10 minutes later with a crust featuring lots of big bubbles on a wooden serving board.  My mushroom pizza was earthy and savory, but I think it could have used a more pungent or sharper cheese to balance the musky mushrooms.  The topping wasn’t as good as Mozza’s funghi misti, but the crust was great.  It was crispy, with just the right amount of chew.  Once I got to the outer crust, which I usually discard at lesser pizzerias, I noticed a complex, tangy taste, thanks to their naturally leavened dough.

The Luggage RoomThe Luggage Room

The BF’s pizzas were decent, but I found the tomato sauce to be too tangy and zesty.  According to Will, they tasted like tomatoes from a can, but not in a good way.

For a place close to home with a good wine list, The Luggage Room is pretty good. If it were less busy on a Friday night, I’d definitely make this a regular.  A good pizza and glass of wine, a drink afterward at 1886 on Fair Oaks, and I’d call that a successful date night.

The Luggage Room Pizzeria
260 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 356-4440

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (Brooklyn)

DSC_5080Even though the BF claimed that anywhere in New York would have better pizza than what I could get in LA, we still trekked all the out to Brooklyn for some famous New York style pizza.

After what amounted to a practically all-day pizza expedition in New York, I ended up waiting in line for two hours. For pizza. In 20-degree weather.  But hey, New York is famous for their pizza, so it’ll be worth it, right?

When I finally got seated in Grimaldi’s, I was happy to see that I had the prime viewing spot for pizza making.  The guy behind the glass was expeditious in his pizza making and judging from his look of concentration, definitely thought that making pizza was Serious Business.

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The BF and I split a pizza. Most of it was tomato sauce, olives and basil while a quarter of it, my portion, was sausage and cheese.  I didn’t think that having my first taste of New York pizza would be mind-blowing, but it was a bit disappointing after all the build up.

DSC_5090The crust was too thin in the middle and just kind of flopped over.  If this pizza were served in LA, I know the BF would have complained about it.  What I did like was the tomato sauce, which wasn’t too spiced or zesty and used in moderation. I hate it when pizza is drowning in overbearing pizza sauce.  The cheese was also good and creamy with that nice stringiness that hot pizza cheese always has.  I wasn’t impressed by the sausage on the pizza, but maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by the sausage at Mozza. The oil-cured olives were incredibly salty and should have been used more sparingly, but they were much better than the canned, rubbery stuff that usually passes for olives on pizza.

Overall, it was a decent pizza, but tasted like what I’d get at Joe’s in Santa Monica on Broadway, or even Vito’s.  Maybe if I hadn’t been waiting for 2 hours in below-freezing weather, I’d think of the pizza more fondly, but for now, I just think of it as “good, but not 2 hours good pizza.”

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For dessert, I ordered a cannoli and this monstrosity came out. It was huge! With sprinkles! I don’t think I’m a fan of cannoli with sprinkles.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
19 Old Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 858-4300