Daily Slice: The Apollonia at Una Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco
They say that parenthood changes a person. Well, it has changed Anthony Mangieri's pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana. Ever so slightly.
In the past, the menu at Una Pizza Napoletana did not offer any meat pizzas, but as of January, Mangieri added a single, Saturday-only pie to his rotation that he tops with salami. He named this pizza the Apollonia, in honor of his infant daughter*.
If this pizza contains meat, it is not meat-centric. The Apollonia arrives with a sparse handful of quarter-inch cubes of Italian salami. Mangieri adds buffalo mozzarella, fresh garlic, basil, sea salt, black pepper, and a thin layer of beaten egg in places. The egg adds a richness to the pie, a sort of base note to go with the light pungency of the garlic, the spice of the salami, and the aromatic basil. Mangieri's buffalo mozzarella, as always, offers a creaminess right up front and then a bit of a tang in the finish.
Rest assured, the crust at Una Pizza Napoletana has not changed one bit. Mangieri's wide and puffy cornicione greets you with an initial hint of crispness, followed by a tender interior that gives a gentle, elastic pull as you bite into it. The flavors are soulful, restorative, and satisfying on an almost primal level.
During my recent visit, when I looked up from savoring my pie, I expected to see Mangieri stretching a round of dough, or reaching into the oven to check a pie. His approach to pizza is so uncompromising, so spare, it would be hard to carry a mental image of him doing anything else. But his wife had come into the restaurant with the baby carriage, and Mangieri had moved to the side of the room to look in on his daughter.
Una Pizza Napoletana
*Note that Mangieri charges $25 for the Apollonia, a price that seems to indicate he's already saving up for his daughter's college education.Though I flinch when I think of that price right now, I have never found myself fretting about it when actually at the restaurant.
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. He'll check out any pizza place, but he feels especially lucky when an assignment takes him someplace like Una Pizza Napoletana. Follow him on Twitter (@pizzakover).