Anthony Mangieri, the Jersey-born, Naples-trained, New York pizza chef who relocated west and is bringing his classic (and critically acclaimed) Una Pizza Napoletana to San Francisco this summer, has just confirmed for Grub Street that he’s aiming for an early September opening at the corner of Howard and 11th Street. "The first or the eighth," he tells us, "Probably the eighth." (Update: It’s now the 15th, but here’s a sneak peek.) He’s busy curing his brand new wood oven, which arrived from Italy a few months back — the pretty mosaic tile covering the outside is liable to crack if he doesn’t fire it up for a few weeks and remove some of the moisture that’s built up around its shell. Helping him out as he sets up the lofty, high-ceilinged space is his new wife Ilaria, whom he met in Naples ten years ago but who just moved here to marry him in the fall. The couple is now living in Marin.
We asked Mangieri about the delays with the opening, and about how many pizzas will be on his menu when he opens.
So first tell us about your wife. How did you guys meet?
Anthony Mangieri: I was in Naples about ten years ago, and I was out at a bar with some friends, and I was drinking, which is something I don’t normally do. And I saw this woman and I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. I didn’t talk to her that night, but on my way out she waved ‘Ciao’ so I knew I had an in. I asked her to marry me while I was there and she said no, which was probably smart. But she stayed in my mind, and we kind of kept in touch over the years, both lived our lives. And then I was back in Naples seeing about the oven last fall, and I looked her up again, and here we are. She came back with me and we were married in New Jersey and she hasn’t been back since. We’re going back to Italy for a wedding in October so she can see her family.
Tell us about the pizzas you’re going to be making. How many will be on the menu?
Either four or five. Typically, I just make four types: All tomato, tomato sauce and cheese, just cheese, and cherry tomato with cheese. I might make a fifth one, named for my wife, but I haven’t been able to find the specific cheese that I need to make it. But I may do a fifth special pizza that will change occasionally. Nothing too crazy — none of that mascarpone all over it or anything. But I haven’t decided.
How about wines. How many on the list?
It’ll be a really focused list. I don’t even drink but I have a guy doing the list. All the wine will be from Campania, Italy, but you know, there won’t be the run-of-the-mill kinds you usually think of.
A friend of ours recently said that you made her favorite pizza in Manhattan, and her favorite coffee in New York. Tell us about the coffee you’ll be doing.
Well, a couple of years ago I was using beans that people in New York hadn’t really been exposed to, like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle. But what I use is this traditional Neapolitan coffee pot — kind of like a mocha pot — there are three compartments and the coffee goes in the center. What comes out is similar to an espresso without the crema. It’s sort in between a good drip coffee and an espresso, kind of thick. We serve it in a small glass with a piece of chocolate. I haven’t figured out yet where to source the chocolate from. I want something I can get in a big hunk and just chip pieces off.
How many seats will you fit into the new space?
It’ll just be about forty or fifty. It’s a bigger space than I had in New York, but basically the same number of seats.
Why all the delays with opening?
Well, it’s like with anything. We didn’t know all the permit stuff that was going to have to happen. It all took a little longer than we thought. But everything, including the liquor license, looks on track now.
So have you been around to any of the competition yet? Have you been to Zero Zero?
Yeah, you know, I was there last week. I was pleasantly surprised. They’re doing a nice job, and that space is amazing.
How do you think your pizza will compare?
Well, you know, it’s the only thing I do. I’ve been making this pizza since I’m fifteen years old, and you know, when all you do is one thing over and over again you tend to get pretty good at it.
Earlier: Master Pizzaiolo Anthony Mangieri To Open in San Francisco in May [Grub Street]
How Many Neapolitan Joints Will Soon Be Battling for Your Pizza Dollar? [Grub Street]