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Una Pizza Napoletana - Steer Clear

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Seriously the worst service I have ever experienced. At 6 pm, all the 2-top tables but one are taken, with 4 separate 4-top tables wide open. They insist on seating my friend and I in the last remaining corner 2-top, making a woman roll her baby in its carriage out of the way while I climb over her. They explain that the tables for 4 are reserved for parties of 4 or more who may show up. Fine. This attitude is irksome, but if that's the policy, so be it. Then they give us one menu for two people. OK, possible oversight. The waitress asks if we know what we'd like to order LITERALLY 15 seconds later. I've barely had time to even realize we only have one menu. We start looking at the menu, and 30 seconds later, the other waiter comes and asks us if we know what we'd like. I have no idea why they're being so pushy, maybe because we're young and from the neighborhood, we don't give the vibe they would like? I have no idea. 1 minute later, we put our order in and have to ask for water. Then she comes and basically slams the glasses and bottle down on our table. It is obvious something is rubbing them the wrong way about our presence.

The pizzas themselves were definitely good, and didn't take long to come out. Quality fresh ingredients and nice taste. But it's $21. For bread, tomatoes and cheese. It's pretty exorbitant - borderline ridiculous. $18 was enough.

After we're done eating, we wait 10 minutes for the check (while the staff fawns over Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, who have just come in) and then when we ask for it, she shoves it in my face as if to say "here, now get out." We did, and happily. Without leaving a tip.

It is unacceptable to charge these kinds of prices and try to be a bastion of New York pizza authenticity without having your service game tight. You have a manifesto about flour, why not take a little time to give your staff some hospitality training? I've never felt this condescended to in a restaurant, especially one in the neighborhood that is meant to be a casual spot in the Italian tradition. Never again on this place.

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  1. I agree. The service wasn't bad when we went, but the prices are exhorbitant, and the pizza is good but I've had pizza just as good or better in other places. I personally think their pizza's a bit too doughy.

    1. To quote Mr. Young, "everybody knows this is nowhere". I get angry when restauranteurs charge money like this for pizza. Pizza is meant to be a simple meal. Even JOHN'S is not cheap, but at least it is without pretense.

      1. Sounds as if you had a bad night, and I sympathize.

        I will say though that seating you at a two-top in a notoriously busy restaurant when there are two people in your party is not only perfectly fine, it's nothing to complain about, nor is it even irksome. Maybe this is where the train went off the rails--who knows?

        We have had brusque service at Una Pizza... a few times, and just as often, really sweet and friendly service. But never anything terrible. It wouldn't hurt to call them and just tell them that you had an awful experience there--that kind of feedback is sometimes really valuable.

        Nosher

        NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

        7 Replies
        1. re: Nosher

          una pizza sounds pretty good. i like to go to restaurants at off-times so neither kichen nor staff is stressed. any suggestions?

          1. re: Nosher

            I went on an early date with the woman who is now my wife to UPN, really excited to show her this pizza. Went on an off-hour, no wait. Neither of us are drinkers, so when asked what we wanted to drink, I said just water. The waiter rattled off 4 different bottled waters - I am morally opposed to bottled water in a city where the tap water tastes so good. So I said no thanks, just tap water. To which the waiter responded with a straight face, sorry, we don't serve tap water. I was tempted to stand up and walk out right there, but I really didn't want the evening with the lady to take a turn for the worse. So we didn't drink anything. Suffice to say, we're soon to have our 2 year anniversary and we haven't been back since. But I was sure to email all my friends about it....

            1. re: spammy

              They now serve tap water, BTW. Too late for you, but I suppose enough people complained...

              1. re: spammy

                I know! NYC tap water tastes great. At Balthazar they serve it in those nice clear bottles and it's just as nice as bottled water, plus you feel as though you can drink as much as you want without feeling like you are going to go bankrupt.

              2. re: Nosher

                In my experience, the male server who's been there longest is fine and friendly, but one of the woman servers is really spacey and will neglect you for a long time, especially right when you need the check.

                1. re: Nosher

                  nosher-

                  thanks, i know how restaurants work - it was more the attitude with which we were seated as opposed to having to sit at a 2-top. that is where the train went off the rails, but i think there's a big difference between saying "we can seat you at this table, but if a table of 4 comes in, we'll have to ask you to move" or even "sorry, but we really need to keep these tables for parties of 4" as opposed to "no you need to sit here, these are for bigger parties." especially when it's right at opening time, the restaurant only has 2-person tables in it, and this one is being encroached upon by a woman with a baby. not even worth debating really, as it's all in the way you say something - and the condescension and smarmy tone of voice were completely unwarranted. went to see dominic in midwood yesterday and one bite of the porcini square washed away all the bitterness of this ridiculous experience.

                  1. re: skrillcakes

                    Hey, no need for the snarky retort. My response to you wasn't, so I'd expect yours not to be.

                    I'm with you on the idea that you should be told nicely that you can't have a 4-top, but not with you on even being seated there temporarily in a place as busy as Una Pizza...

                    Nosher

                    NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                2. Yeah the pizza is great but not worth the DRAMA. We had a similar experience there. Someone should start a thread on alternative to this place!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Sammy Diaz

                    Naples 45. The neighborhood is not charming like UPN, but the pizza is just as good...and the service is much nicer.

                    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                      Oh yes, I'll second this. Naples 45 (esp. after 2:00) is fantastic.

                      Nosher

                      NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                      1. re: Nosher

                        Where is this Naples 45 you speak about? I'd like to check it out!

                        1. re: missesq

                          Met Life Building on 45th between Lex and Vanderbilt

                        2. re: Nosher

                          I've heard good things about Naples 45- what is their pizza like, and what do you recommend there? I am going to have to try it.

                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            Neopolitan style. Relatively thin crust but still has chew to it. Nice charring on the pizza. I love their quattro formaggi pizza probably the best. For a more traditional pie, can't beat the pepperoni.

                            1. re: ESNY

                              Mmmm..ok I'm sold. I understand they also serve a full menu- any good stuff?

                      2. re: Sammy Diaz

                        I haven't been UPN in a while, not since they stopped the byob. Our go-to pizza place is Posto, on 2nd Ave and 18th. Fantastic pizza, no attitude, yummy salads and apps.

                        1. re: jens

                          UPN is completely different than Posto. Posto is mediocre pizza and really not even in the same league of UPN.

                      3. Don't EVEN get me started on this place- service is a drag (with an occasional great server but mostly dragz), pizza is RIDICULOUSLY overpriced, attitude is tedious (i don't need a 4 page dissertation about your wet gloopy pies), things like customers needed to tell them they should serve tap water, overpriced yuppie pizza- and NO TOPPINGS? WTF? i can't have pepperoni or sausage or mushrooms or olives? there are SO many better pies than this in this city (Difara, Patsy's Uptown, Totonno's, L&B, even 5 roses right around the corner is better- take that!). and yet the rich line up for UPN and pony up $21 dollars for a tiny personal pizza... let them have it... a drag indeed

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: frankbooth

                          I could understand the complaints if UPN was in anyway dishonest, but they are upfront about their mission/ethos. They are trying to recreate a very specific type of pizza and that is all they sell. You may find the pizza overpriced but it is not as though they are using Polly-O mozzarella to make the pies. Everything they use is carefully selected and top-notch. Also, have you read the description of how long it takes to make the dough? It is a very time consuming process and can't just be delegated to an inexperienced, low wage employee. All these factors are going to contribute to a pie that costs more than your average slice place. I would be very surprised to find out the owner was getting particularly rich running the pizzeria.

                          I think they make a terrific pie that is enough for two normal sized appetites. Although I could possibly eat an entire pie by myself, I personally would be horribly overstuffed afterwards. I'm not in a particular hurry to go back, but I do appreciate what they are doing and admire the owner's dedication to his craft. Also, just about everyone who goes there knows what they are getting into so I have little sympathy for the complaints about size, price and lack of toppings.

                          1. re: eca

                            Look, there's absolutely nothing wrong with --and much to admire about-- UPN's self-proclaimed authenticity mission. I dream of Naples and its pizza, but it looks like UPN has lost sight of what makes it all so wonderful--not just a tasy pie but an unselfconscious simplicity and a little friendly joy. Who cares--except those obsessed with reassurance--about having to justify your product with multipage texts? Unless it's a way to justify prices. Frankly, I'd rather pay $12 for a pretty classic margherita at La Pizza Fresca and enjoy decent service, decent wine, and free tap water and not feel like I'm on some pretentious pilgrimage where sacrifices must be made.

                            1. re: obob96

                              Who doesn't offer NY tap? In the east village no less.

                              Hey, the pizza sounds great if you have money to burn. Otherwise, I'll get mine at the many places mentioned in this thread, or Luzzo's, where they're friendly and unpretentious.

                        2. Just wanted to jump in on the UPN bashing train. So true. I went there three times (I know, a little masochistic) over the span of a year to find pretty much the same thing. Good food, bad attitude. Why did I go back? I appreciate the purist approach. But there is nothing pure about not appreciating your guests.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: whiterabbit

                            I'll have to concur with the general consensus on UPN. I went with three friends and shared two pies. The service is pretty bad and there is severe attitude but we still tipped them 30%. We have pretty thick skins. Maybe they'll remember us the next time we go and treat us a little better.

                          2. Just look at Difara's - every single pie made by hand, by a master, no prep work done in advance, the man makes every single pie by himself- and he is well into his 70's. and does he have an attitude about it? not one bit- the guy is a TRUE pizzaola- unshaken by the rich and famous, all the attention lavished on him, he just simply churns out incredible pies one by one with a smile and even manages to be gracious while doing it! opera playing in the background, glass of red wine flowing, Dom is a master in the true sense of the word. no attitude, no disregard for the customer, no snooty waitstaff, no dissertation on how great his pizza is (the line should be indication enough) to justify the exhorbitant prices, just incredible pies that would satisfy any DOC purist (MDB, Fiore Di Late, Parm Regg, Grand Pidana, Fresh Mozz, San Marzano Tomatoes, EVOO, oregono from italy, fresh basil). i have eaten pizza in Napoli, all over Italy, and extensively in both New Haven and NYC. UPN would not last 5 minutes in italy- you can get a pizza of similar quality at almost any pizza restaurant in italy, without the attitude. and if this is any further indication of the problems with UPN, the pizzaola at UPN told me that he thought that Sally's in New Haven was mediocre- nothing special! BLASPHEMY!!! his apizza making credentials flew right out the window with that one comment for me... then his pies were boring, soupy messes. i don't care how long it takes to make the crust- spare me the attitude...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: frankbooth

                              not the best maybe, but on that level, I don't know how many of you were in Napoli, but over there it is also hard to get authenticity on pizza.(to many touristy joints),I couldn't care less about attitude, I just go there to get my pizza, not a friend.I admire the guy guts to stick it to the wrong crowd, and definitely I will go back.

                              1. re: forklein

                                I'm with you... never understood people's special needs at restaurants, or why they can not adjust to different experiences and levels of service. The service and attitude here is no different than any of the hundreds of pizzarias in the tri state: you order a pie and maybe a soda, you eat and drink, you leave. It's not like the menu is complicated where you need affable informative wait staff, it's just pizza with or without topings.

                                And the idea that you can get this specific level of pizza quality "anywhere" is laughable. Source the ingredients, note the well documented preperation involved THEN list the comperable options for this particular style.

                                The only question you have to ask here is if it is worth it for you on a value for dollar basis. For me it is not, though I will pop in once in a while because it tastes so damn good. Could care less if I get served with a smile, don't need it, don't always want it, necessarily.

                                1. re: Abe Froman

                                  At $21 a pie and a whole aura of self-importance, this joint is not just another pizzeria. You can get a decent margherita elsewhere--and not feel like you're intruding.

                            2. guys like ny times writer eric asimov are really living in another world to recommend joints like this without mentioning the price tag (i guess when you're a food writer it's tax-deductible). we went in, looked at the prices, and walked right out -- shoulda known when the menu wasn't posted in the window! talk about booji aspirational eating.

                              asimov's piece >

                              http://thepour.blogs.nytimes.com/2007...

                              1. I've eaten there twice. The first time was a month after it opened and I really liked the no compromise pizza. The second time the pizzas were more expensive and had a LOT less cheese. In fact, the amount of cheese on both pies (margaritas) were just a little more than a quick inhale. Shameful really. We both left hungry and I really felt FLEECED! Not a nice experience. We won't make the mistake of a return visit.

                                1. I have a feeling I am going to be fanning the flames here, and not because I think their pizza is bad- their pizza is good and well made, with only the best ingredients. I very much respect what the owner/pizzaiolo is trying to do, despite the ridiculous prices. However... has anyone noticed the sign above the door that says "TRAS MUNNEZZ"? Anyone know what it means? I do- It means "Enter Garbage" in Neapolitan dialect. Now, I am not from Naples, nor is my Italian/Italian-American family. I do not claim to speak Neapolitan dialect. But I know it when I see it. I questioned a server there once about it, who looked surprised and said she would ask the owner. She came back and laughed it off, saying that he meant no offense. No matter how good the pizza is, I think I'd have trouble going back and choking it down at this point. Comments? Dissent? I would love to be wrong here. But to me, it seems as though he is calling his clientele trash.

                                  1. I have been here many times, for both take out and eat in, and I have experienced nothing but friendliness and warmth from the owner and staff.
                                    In fact, when I went to get a pizza last week (to-go), the owner offered me a glass of wine while I waited. He told me it was a hard to find wine that he gets from Italy...and it was excellent. The pizza is the BEST I have ever had, and tastes exactly like the pizza I ate in Italy. Are the prices high? Absolutely. I wish they were lower, but people have to remember that his rent must be very high, AND they are only open 4 days a week, so they have to charge a little more than other 7 day places.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Buttercream

                                      Buttercream- there are many of us (including myself) who acknowledge that his pizza is pretty special, and that the ingredients are top notch. However, I do not think it relevant to mention that his rent is high in defending the prices- he works in the same city as all of the other pizzaioli in NY, and in a space that is smaller than most. Also, if he is open only four days per week, then that is his choice. I am sure his lease does not prevent him from being open as many days per week as he would like. Personally, I think he has a right to make pizza as often or as seldom as he wants- but making the customers pay exorbitant amounts for pizza for the privilege of his lessons in flour and largely incompetent service is not respectful. I don't know anyone (and I really cheered this place to all of my friends when it opened) who has experienced anything other than attitude on the part of the owner. I overlooked this until I saw tha sign that I mentioned in my post above. ENTER GARBAGE? Even if he means it as a joke, or some inside reference irrelevant to the customers- does he not know that it is inappropriate and rude? In any case, he clearly thinks his clientele is too ignorant to figure it out. As I said above, no matter how good I think the pizza is, I would have a hard time choking it down at this point.