By Kendall Fisher(opens in new tab), executive producer at Grow Wire
Entering Una Pizza Napoletana in New York City’s lower east side on a chilly November afternoon, host Fritz Nelson and I accepted the warm welcome of simple features: white tile, rows of wood tables with green chairs, and a pizza oven situated in the back, unhidden, for all eyes to see.
Nothing over-the-top for what the New York Times(opens in new tab) dubbed one of the best sit-down pizza joints in all five boroughs of New York City—an almost impossible feat, and yet one that Tony Mangieri curated with his own hands (literally) and heart.
Upon sitting down with Tony, both Fritz and I were immediately drawn to his aura of positivity, authenticity and humility (as we were both eager to discuss right after the interview). His tattoos and city style only make him that much cooler.
Once the conversation got going, we became even more captivated by his story—a Jersey kid with a humble Italian upbringing and a passion for cooking who would spend his life pursuing the creation of the perfect pizza in some of America’s most food-obsessed cities.
Tony’s zeal for this pursuit is so prevalent you can almost taste it in this episode of “The Grow Wire Podcast(opens in new tab),” taking us on his life journey from a 20-year-old with a struggling bakery to a 48-year-old with four successful businesses under his belt. He dives into his secret for creating a great pizza and admits he’s always experimenting to make the next pie even better. You can hear the heartbreak in his voice as he recalls the poor reviews Una Pizza received from food critics when it returned to New York in 2018…and the fire in his quest to eventually prove them wrong (which he did). He is now set to open a new Una in his home state of New Jersey this month.
Tony portrays what it means to truly and deeply love something so much you can never give it up, and that’s exactly what makes him one of New York’s most renown entrepreneurs and chefs, and an inspiration to us all.
(Oh, and he also weighs in on the San Francisco vs New York food scene debate.)