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Elevating pizza to the level of haute cuisine

8 Feb 2013 1:45 PM
Elevating pizza to the level of haute cuisine

It may not be the most gourmet or the most elegant cuisine, but pizza - when it's made properly by true culinary experts - can be every bit as delicious and satisfying as any traditional fine-dining option. New York City and Chicago are typically known as America's most respected purveyors of perfect pies, but a cult classic pizza shop located near some of the most desirable real estate in San Francisco has earned a reputation as perhaps America's greatest pizza restaurant.

Despite its modest exterior and minimalist dining room, Una Pizza Napoletana, located at 210 11th Street in the heart of San Francisco, has been converting the city's gourmands for more than two decades.

The menu is simple - just five types of pizza, day after day - and the ingredients are fairly straightforward, but the pizza that comes out of the ovens at Una Pizza Napoletana is peerless. Much of that is due to the restaurant's long-tenured and famously fastidious chef, Anthony Mangieri. Each day, Mangieri sets up shop in the restaurant's kitchen and produces pizza that never disappoints.

This isn't to say that Mangieri hasn't grown. Over the years, he has tirelessly perfected his craft and adjusted his recipe to stay fresh,

"I'm always changing things here, even though it's always been the same idea," Mangieri told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Basically the dough is different every day."

One element that doesn't change, however, is the ingredients, which are always fresh and expertly prepared. Mangieri uses interesting flavor combinations to set his pizzas apart from the more garden-variety pizza places that populate the Bay Area.

His Apollonia pizza, for example, which is only available on Saturdays, features fresh eggs, buffalo mozzarella, salami, fresh basil and sea salt. It may look like a pizza and come out of a pizza oven, but it is a dish that merits the attention of even the city's most ardent culinary experts.

In that way, Una Pizza Napoletana shows what single-minded dedication and hard-won craftsmanship can achieve. The restaurant's limited menu and Mangieri's attention to even the smallest details help the pizza achieve its nearly universal acclaim.

"The more specialized you get and the more you try to do one thing excellently, the more you realize it's really, really hard," he told the source. "Trying to be dedicated and sticking with [the craft]. This is what you do."