20041117WoodFire.jpgThe Village Voice's Robert Sietsma visits newcomers Una Pizza Napoletana and Fornino.

On Fornino:

Fornino takes a historical approach to pizza, dividing pies into three categories melodramatically entitled Naples, the First Generation; Italy, the Second Generation; and Fornino, the Third Generation. I won't bore you with the absurdity of this breakdown, which fancifully assigns pizzas to places. Section one features a nicely charred version of the margherita, the pie that, in 1889, dumped cheese on Naples pizza for the first time. Section-two pies showcase signature ingredients of regional Italian cuisines, with good results in the case of the Siciliana (eggplant, onions, and capers), and with dicier results in the rustica, topped with mushrooms and guanciale (cured hog jowl) that's been sliced and fried like bacon. Bad idea! Dice it and put it on raw, fellas. Section-three pies—ostensibly invented by Fornino—are worthwhile without being wild, though I don't imagine many of you will be sampling the $35 black-truffle pie anytime soon. The modest list of antipasti includes small clams heaped with lemon slices, garlic, and capers ($8), and a weird but wonderful salad of frisée, prosciutto, and dried fruit.

About Napoletana:

While Fornino jovially pursues its own pizza mythology, Una Pizza Napoletana is more fiercely iconoclastic, chasing the true pie of Naples with religious zealotry. In fact, saints' images form an important part of the decor, which also includes wonderful black-and-white photos of old Naples. The menu offers only four pies, each approximately 11 inches in diameter ($16.96), based on Neapolitan models and made with unimpeachable ingredients: organic flour, Sicilian sea salt, imported mozzarella, and San Marziano tomatoes. A generous dose of green olive oil is poured on apres-oven. No salads, no sides, no desserts.

And, about both, in his concluding paragraph:

If good intentions guaranteed perfect pizza, these parlors would be among the city's best. Unfortunately, both suffer from uneven crust quality, and among the 11 pies that I've tasted, too many have been doughy and damp. Both places need more experience with their dough and ovens. Only then can they turn out an approximation of the true pizza.

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