Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

A mano in Ridgewood


whitetrufflechick
 Share

Recommended Posts

Walking into Ridgewood's newest pizza endeavor, my first impression was that I was walking into a chain restaurant. The snazzy room with its oversized black and white prints isn't what gave me that impression, nor was it the picture perfect dessert/gelato display case right inside the front door. What gave me the impression that I might have walked into a chain was the 'uniform' of every staff member in the place, including the pizza maker/owner: tan khakis, a white t, a red apron and the dreaded red neckerchief. Seeing staff dressed like this distracts from the effort put into the dining decor to appear somewhat sophisticated, with the newly finished wood floors, deep red walls and soaring ceilings. We were quickly seated in this empty dining room and handed the one page 'preview' menu, as they have only been open a few days.

Our appetizer was the 'A Mano' - the chef's assorted specialites. An assortment of vegetable spreads including an eggplant caponata, a red pepper/almond mix and an assortment of vegetable spreads (including a decent tuna artichoke blend) served with foccacia points was good.

A mano offers a variety of 13 pizzas and 4 salads. We decided to go with 2 pizzas - he ordered the Mano - Bufala Mozz, Prosciuto di Parma, arugula, cherry tomatoes, shaved gran cru and extra virgin olive oil. I ordered the Regina Margherita - Buff Mozz, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil. I noticed artichokes on one of the offered pizzas and asked if they could be added to mine. Stumbling over her words and looking uncomfortable, the young waitress said she could ask but didn't know if I could be accomodated. Huh? She said in the past he wouldn't want to make this pizza with artichokes but perhaps she could convince him tonite since it wasn't busy. Huh??

She went over to the pizza making area and conversation ensued and she reluctantly returned and told me I could not have my (what amounts to) plain pizza with artichokes. Huh???

Now, immediately in hushed tones my guy and I discussed what this could possibly indicate. Was the chef THAT into his food and ingredients that no changes were allowed to upset the delicate balance of what was going to be extraordinary pizza? Would this fly in Ridgewood where 'made to order' is usually the order of the day (dressing on the side, make it with no butter please, double pepperoni, hold the sauce). Is pizza man just a cocky SOB in which case, "Hey Buddy, I'm outta here..."

We didn't have to wait long to have some of our concerns addressed as within moments, pizza man appeared at our table and introduced himself as "Robert, the owner." Robert explained to me that artichokes weren't to be put on my pizza but if I wanted to remove the mushroom, ham and olives from the Pizza Capriciosa (Fresh Mozz, Tom, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Ham, Basil) he would gladly accomodate me. He felt the Bufula Mozz wouldn't be right with the artichokes.I told him I really wanted to try the Bufala mozz and that I'd just go with the plain margherita. Holy Crap, this pizza is going to be INCREDIBLE with this much passion and attention to detail.

Sadly, my expectations were not met. When the pizzas were set before us, they looked lovely. One bite after another, we were hoping for and looking for that something special that would set these pizza apart from the others. That taste never came. We finished our pizzas, left and that was it. Nothing thrilling tastewise. The crust was soggy in the center, a bit undercooked and unable to hold its own weight without collapsing. Almost dissolving at the middle, it was very chewy at the crust. Too chewy. For my rare pizza splurge, I'll stick with Brooklyn's fresh ingredients and tasty brick oven crust. And please, don't hold the artichokes.

Side Note: We were told by the waitress that the owner had/has two restaurants in Pittsburgh and this is his first NJ endeavor. Jerry's, opening in the not too distant future next door, is in partnership with with A mano and Jerry's provides many of A mano's ingredients.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Full report and info from a VERY trusted source is here! :wink:

And despite WTC's experience, it sounds to me like A mano is making VERY legit Neopolitan pizza. Can't wait to get over there!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wtc: I don't know if they use bufala mozzarella, but Foschini's in Lyndhurst makes a very, very legitimate and tasty Margherita. The tommyeats entry does make it seem a little too touristy-pizza, but the photos seem to be a different story.

Give Foschini's a shot, though; it might ease the pain of a not-so-great wood fired brick oven pizza.

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wtc: I don't know if they use bufala mozzarella, but Foschini's in Lyndhurst makes a very, very legitimate and tasty Margherita.  The tommyeats entry does make it seem a little too touristy-pizza, but the photos seem to be a different story. 

Give Foschini's a shot, though; it might ease the pain of a not-so-great wood fired brick oven pizza.

I will, MJP. The photos on Tommy's site are exactly what the pizzas looked like that night. Picture perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, the phone number seems to be (973)542-8080. Haven't tried calling yet, but that's what the hostess wrote down for me on my take-out menu.

Anyway.....I had dinner there last night as well, and my impression couldn't be more opposite of WTC's (were we there at the same time? I was in the back corner with my 3 year old and my 7 month old.)

I had the A Mano appetizer also, and I thought it was very good. I actually didn't care so much for the tuna/artichoke spread, but pretty much universally enjoyed the rest of the items. I would have to say that my favorite of them was a roasted pepper and almond "salad". It had a nice sweet/acidic balance of flavors, and the almonds gave a nice textural contrast to the softness of the peppers.

Then we had the Prosciutto & Arugala pizza. I had never had that combination before, but based on Tommy's comments, and the fact that it seemed to "work" in my head, I tried it. That, and we could easily remove the toppings so my son could eat the plain pizza he was craving (more prociutto for me.....damn) Anyway, I thought the crust has a very pleaisng smokiness to it. Mine was not at all undercooked, and I thought that it was just the right level of crispiness....enough to have a pleasing chew, but not so crisp that it was going to shatter. And the combination of the prosciutto and arugala played out exactly as I hoped in my mind. The bitterness of the greens undercut the richness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the frexh mozzarella.. The whole thing came together beautifully. And even without the toppings, my son wolfed through half the pizza and fought me for half of my last piece.

And of course we had to finish with some gelato. I has the zupp'anglaise, and my son had chocolate. They were good, but will definitely require further tastings :wink:

All in all, I would have to say that in my opinion he gets everything right. And while I certainly enjoy BKLN pizza quite a bit, for me it is ultimately a "Jersey-Style" pizza (albeit a good one) that happens to be brick-oven cooked. A Mano is much more of a true Neopolitan style I think their both good, but more apples-to-oranges that apples-to-apples.

Edited by chefdavidrusso (log)

Nothing says I love you like a homemade salami

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, the phone number seems to be (973)542-8080.  Haven't tried calling yet, but that's what the hostess wrote down for me on my take-out menu.

Anyway.....I had dinner there last night as well, and my impression couldn't be more opposite of WTC's (were we there at the same time?  I was in the back corner with my 3 year old and my 7 month old.)

I had the A Mano appetizer also, and I thought it was very good.  I actually didn't care so much for the tuna/artichoke spread, but pretty much universally enjoyed the rest of the items.  I would have to say that my favorite of them was a roasted pepper and almond "salad".  It had a nice sweet/acidic balance of flavors, and the almonds gave a nice textural contrast to the softness of the peppers.

Then we had the Prosciutto & Arugala pizza.  I had never had that combination before, but based on Tommy's comments, and the fact that it seemed to "work" in my head, I tried it.  That, and we could easily remove the toppings so my son could eat the plain pizza he was craving (more prociutto for me.....damn)  Anyway, I thought the crust has a very pleaisng smokiness to it.  Mine was not at all undercooked, and I thought that it was just the right level of crispiness....enough to have a pleasing chew, but not so crisp that it was going to shatter.  And the combination of the prosciutto and arugala played out exactly as I hoped in my mind.  The bitterness of the greens undercut the richness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the frexh mozzarella..  The whole thing came together beautifully.  And even without the toppings, my son wolfed through half the pizza and fought me for half of my last piece.

And of course we had to finish with some gelato.  I has the zupp'anglaise, and my son had chocolate.  They were good, but will definitely require further tastings  :wink:

All in all, I would have to say that in my opinion he gets everything right.  And while I certainly enjoy BKLN pizza quite a bit, for me it is ultimately a "Jersey-Style" pizza (albeit a good one) that happens to be brick-oven cooked.  A Mano is much more of a true Neopolitan style  I think their both good, but more apples-to-oranges that apples-to-apples.

Hi David,

Was that you in back the corner with your little boys? I think we exited just as you were walking them up front to what I was guessing was the 'little boys' room - quite the juggling act with baby carrier, backpack and hand holding of the 3 yo! Very impressive. It must have been as when we were passing by the windows outside, we noticed the A Mano appetizer being placed on your empty table awaiting your return.

And yes, we certainly had different experiences. Then again, if we all had the same experiences everywhere we went, there would be no need for eg. Funny you mention the smokiness of the crust and a the crispness. We really got none of that at all. One of my comments while eating was that it seemed like the dough had been handled too much, making it tough to chew. When we got there about 5:30, we were the only table in the place. Maybe the oven wasn't hot enough, maybe the pizza gods just didn't smile down on the pizza at that moment. Whatever the reason, different experiences.

I agree that Brooklyn is definitely different, but to call it a 'Jersey-style' makes it sound like its a typical Cousin Vinny's pizza parlor that happen's to be cooked in a brick-oven. The house-made mozz, the fresh basil and made from scratch sauce (never mind the crust that manages to be both crispy and chewy at the same time) is, to me, what differentiates it from the type of Jersey-style place I'd have delivered on a Friday night for a bunch of teens.

Edited by whitetrufflechick (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, the phone number seems to be (973)542-8080.  Haven't tried calling yet, but that's what the hostess wrote down for me on my take-out menu.

Anyway.....I had dinner there last night as well, and my impression couldn't be more opposite of WTC's (were we there at the same time?  I was in the back corner with my 3 year old and my 7 month old.)

I had the A Mano appetizer also, and I thought it was very good.  I actually didn't care so much for the tuna/artichoke spread, but pretty much universally enjoyed the rest of the items.  I would have to say that my favorite of them was a roasted pepper and almond "salad".  It had a nice sweet/acidic balance of flavors, and the almonds gave a nice textural contrast to the softness of the peppers.

Then we had the Prosciutto & Arugala pizza.  I had never had that combination before, but based on Tommy's comments, and the fact that it seemed to "work" in my head, I tried it.   That, and we could easily remove the toppings so my son could eat the plain pizza he was craving (more prociutto for me.....damn)  Anyway, I thought the crust has a very pleaisng smokiness to it.  Mine was not at all undercooked, and I thought that it was just the right level of crispiness....enough to have a pleasing chew, but not so crisp that it was going to shatter.  And the combination of the prosciutto and arugala played out exactly as I hoped in my mind.  The bitterness of the greens undercut the richness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the frexh mozzarella..  The whole thing came together beautifully.  And even without the toppings, my son wolfed through half the pizza and fought me for half of my last piece.

And of course we had to finish with some gelato.  I has the zupp'anglaise, and my son had chocolate.  They were good, but will definitely require further tastings  :wink:

All in all, I would have to say that in my opinion he gets everything right.  And while I certainly enjoy BKLN pizza quite a bit, for me it is ultimately a "Jersey-Style" pizza (albeit a good one) that happens to be brick-oven cooked.  A Mano is much more of a true Neopolitan style  I think their both good, but more apples-to-oranges that apples-to-apples.

Hi David,

Was that you in back the corner with your little boys? I think we exited just as you were walking them up front to what I was guessing was the 'little boys' room - quite the juggling act with baby carrier, backpack and hand holding of the 3 yo! Very impressive. It must have been as when we were passing by the windows outside, we noticed the A Mano appetizer being placed on your empty table awaiting your return.

And yes, we certainly had different experiences. Then again, if we all had the same experiences everywhere we went, there would be no need for eg. Funny you mention the smokiness of the crust and a the crispness. We really got none of that at all. One of my comments while eating was that it seemed like the dough had been handled too much, making it tough to chew. When we got there about 5:30, we were the only table in the place. Maybe the oven wasn't hot enough, maybe the pizza gods just didn't smile down on the pizza at that moment. Whatever the reason, different experiences.

I agree that Brooklyn is definitely different, but to call it a 'Jersey-style' makes it sound like its a typical Cousin Vinny's pizza parlor that happen's to be cooked in a brick-oven. The house-made mozz, the fresh basil and made from scratch sauce (never mind the crust that manages to be both crispy and chewy at the same time) is, to me, what differentiates it from the type of Jersey-style place I'd have delivered on a Friday night for a bunch of teens.

Yes that was me in the corner with the kids. And I remember seeing the two of you sitting at your table.

Perhaps my description of BKLN pizza as "Jersey" pizza is a little inacurate (or mis-phrased, or something). I would agree, it is nothing at all like "Cousin Vinny's Slice Shack". What I was trying to describe was the use of very Americanized toppings, which I suppose is geographically non-specific. Don't get me wrong....like I said, I enjoy BKLN, and I even enjoy a slice or four of Cousin Vinny's. But I still think that A Mano and BKLN make radically different styles of pizza.

Nothing says I love you like a homemade salami

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The Record showcased this place on the front page of the Food section. You can read it here: http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=e...nFlZUVFeXkxNQ==

I guess this place will be mobbed now that more people will hear about it. ;) I really enjoyed their pizzas and look forward to returning to try them *all* out and the additions to the menu. =9~ I too like Brooklyn's but one thing missing from theirs (disregarding all else) is the char flavor (from the apple and cherry woods?) in the crust that A Mano's has. Yum! What does Brooklyn burn in their ovens that makes it lack the flavor?

Edited by wilsonrabbit (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This link will take you directly to the article (I couldn't get there via the one wilsonrabbit posted).

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally made it to A Mano...in short, pizza was fantastic, service, not so much. Let's just say it's definitely not staffed by a seasoned group; hopefully that will change. But it won't keep me from returning!

We shared the fried dough 'salad' for an app, which was unusual and very tasty. Next time, the salume and formaggio plate and/or the A Mano.

I had the arugula and prosciutto pizza. My friends had the classic margherita and the margherita con salume, and we were all raving about them. None of us found the centers to be soggy; in fact, we were all able to pick up our slices and eat them. The crust was just the right combination of charred and chewable, and I loved the thickness of it.

I thought the space was beautiful, although we were amused more than once by folks speaking a tad too loudly, as their comments ("SANDY! I'm ready to go!" sticks out) literally resonated through the entire place. That said, I didn't think this was a particularly loud space, so those random acoustic issues were odd.

Bottom line--we loved the food, and it was a great way to spend a Sunday evening--with a good bottle of wine, of course! :wink:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally made it to A Mano...in short, pizza was fantastic, service, not so much.  Let's just say it's definitely not staffed by a seasoned group; hopefully that will change.  But it won't keep me from returning!

We shared the fried dough 'salad' for an app, which was unusual and very tasty.  Next time, the salume and formaggio plate and/or the A Mano.

I had the arugula and prosciutto pizza.  My friends had the classic margherita and the margherita con salume, and we were all raving about them.  None of us found the centers to be soggy;  in fact, we were all able to pick up our slices and eat them.  The crust was just the right combination of charred and chewable, and I loved the thickness of it.

I thought the space was beautiful, although we were amused more than once by folks speaking a tad too loudly, as their comments ("SANDY!  I'm ready to go!" sticks out) literally resonated through the entire place.  That said, I didn't think this was a particularly loud space, so those random acoustic issues were odd.

Bottom line--we loved the food, and it was a great way to spend a Sunday evening--with a good bottle of wine, of course!    :wink:

were you confused by them providing a knife/fork *and* cutting the pizza into slices?

Edited by tommy (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nope...my brain was able to process having both options. :raz:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
Walking into Ridgewood's newest pizza endeavor, my first impression was that I was walking into a chain restaurant. The snazzy room with its oversized black and white prints isn't what gave me that impression, nor was it the picture perfect dessert/gelato display case right inside the front door. What gave me the impression that I might have walked into a chain was the 'uniform' of every staff member in the place, including the pizza maker/owner: tan khakis, a white t, a red apron and the dreaded red neckerchief. Seeing staff dressed like this distracts from the effort put into the dining decor to appear somewhat sophisticated, with the newly finished wood floors, deep red walls and soaring ceilings. We were quickly seated in this empty dining room and handed the one page 'preview' menu, as they have only been open a few days.

Our appetizer was the 'A Mano' - the chef's assorted specialites. An assortment of vegetable spreads including an eggplant caponata, a red pepper/almond mix and an assortment of vegetable spreads (including a decent tuna artichoke blend) served with foccacia points was good.

A mano offers a variety of 13 pizzas and 4 salads. We decided to go with 2 pizzas - he ordered the Mano - Bufala Mozz, Prosciuto di Parma, arugula, cherry tomatoes, shaved gran cru and extra virgin olive oil.  I ordered the Regina Margherita - Buff Mozz, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil.  I noticed artichokes on one of the offered pizzas and asked if they could be added to mine. Stumbling over her words and looking uncomfortable, the young waitress said she could ask but didn't know if I could be accomodated. Huh?  She said in the past he wouldn't want to make this pizza with artichokes but perhaps she could convince him tonite since it wasn't busy. Huh??

She went over to the pizza making area and conversation ensued and she reluctantly returned and told me I could not have my (what amounts to) plain pizza with artichokes. Huh???

Now, immediately in hushed tones my guy and I discussed what this could possibly indicate. Was the chef THAT into his food and ingredients that no changes were allowed to upset the delicate balance of what was going to be extraordinary pizza? Would this fly in Ridgewood where 'made to order' is usually the order of the day (dressing on the side, make it with no butter please, double pepperoni, hold the sauce). Is pizza man just a cocky SOB in which case, "Hey Buddy, I'm outta here..."

We didn't have to wait long to have some of our concerns addressed as within moments, pizza man appeared at our table and introduced himself as "Robert, the owner."  Robert explained to me that artichokes weren't to be put on my pizza but if I wanted to remove the mushroom, ham and olives from the Pizza Capriciosa (Fresh Mozz, Tom, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Ham, Basil) he would gladly accomodate me. He felt the Bufula Mozz wouldn't be right with the artichokes.I told him I really wanted to try the Bufala mozz and that I'd just go with the plain margherita. Holy Crap, this pizza is going to be INCREDIBLE with this much passion and attention to detail.

Sadly, my expectations were not met. When the pizzas were set before us, they looked lovely. One bite after another, we were hoping for and looking for that something special that would set these pizza apart from the others. That taste never came. We finished our pizzas, left and that was it. Nothing thrilling tastewise. The crust was soggy in the center, a bit undercooked and unable to hold its own weight without collapsing. Almost dissolving at the middle, it was very chewy at the crust. Too chewy. For my rare pizza splurge, I'll stick with Brooklyn's fresh ingredients and tasty brick oven crust.  And please, don't hold the artichokes.

Side Note: We were told by the waitress that the owner had/has two restaurants in Pittsburgh and this is his first NJ endeavor. Jerry's, opening in the not too distant future next door, is in partnership with with A mano and Jerry's provides many of A mano's ingredients.

My husband and I went here this Saturday and we had the complete opposite experience. I have never had a better wood burning fresh margherita pizza- our pizza was great - the crust held up to the sauce without getting soggy on the bottom which I am sorry but everytime I have eaten at Brooklyn's the pizza is ALWAYS soggy right through to the bottom, frankly I was amazed this pizza was not soggy with all the yummy sauce on it. The ingredients tasted wonderfully fresh and the crust/dough was fantastic, you could smell the freshness. I was quite impressed. Maybe in the months since you have been there is has improved, have you been back recently. Or maybe they are hit and miss and I was happy to be there for a hit. My husband also orderd a crab cake from the deli and they heated it for him to eat in the restaurant he said it was very good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was back at A Mano this week, and have to agree with Deldino; the pizza is simply WONDERFUL. I had the Ortolana this time (fresh mozz, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and artichokes--which I left off as I'm not that big a fan). You'd think that with all of that stuff it would get soggy in the middle, but that wasn't the case! It was FABULOUS. My friends also loved their pizzas (margherita and Regina margherita, respectively) and we shared the arugula/pear salad. I don't know where they're getting the arugula from, but it's stunning every time. For dessert, they brought us a sampling of three cakes, as my sugar freak friends couldn't decide what to get. There was a black forest cake, a flourless chocolate, and a chocolate/Grand Marnier cake with blood orange slices. As I've mentioned many times on these boards, in general, I'm not a huge dessert fan, but if they have the chocolate/Grand Marnier cake, GET IT! The other two were also delicious, but I just. Loved. This. :wub:

As has been mentioned before, the service isn't what it could be, but it was better this time than on my last visit. Despite that, this is definitely my new favorite place for a casual meal. We met owners Jerry and Roberto as well as the pastry chef, and Roberto took us in to the deli after hours b/c I mentioned that it's always closed when I go. The folks who own this place are warm and welcoming, and obviously passionate about what they have created. Because we were there late, Roberto was able to spend time chatting with us; what a doll!

Bottom line...A Mano is definitely worth the trip. :smile:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had a fantastic lunch at A Mano today. Arrived at about 1:15 and the place was about half full (downstairs). Split an A Mano salad, which was solid but not spectacular, and then a Pizza Margherite, which was simply great. I've been fortunate to try many of the famous places in NYC and I think this is right there with most. Ofcourse it most compares to Una Pizza Napoletana, in style, and I enjoued it more today than I have UPN in the past. I'm not sure if it was a lunch menu, but the pizza was also reasonably priced relative to UPN, Luzzo's, and others of similar ilk, as it was under 10 dollars.

I will definitely be back and will probably skip the salad next time. A few tables ordered some Antipasti and it looked fantastic. I echo some comments above that I thougth service was just okay... our waitress was borderline rude at the beginning of lunch but seemed to realize it and improve with time.

Certainly the best pizza I've had in New Jersey (I've never been to the places in Trenton), I readily and heartily reccomend A Mano.

KOBI

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

OH NO - I guess it was bound to happen. I had an experience similiar to WTC original post.

My husband and I went back and ordered the margarita pizza again, since we raved about it last time. ALAS it was not to be.. (sorry for the drama, but we were so disappointed) The pizza was practically burnt on the bottom, lots of not the good kind of char and the crust was way to chewy - not yummy chewy but roll up into a ball of glue chewy. And there was too much sauce(which even tasted different) and most of the pizza was soggy. I am hoping this is a rare experience and I did see that it was a different pizza guy making the pizza so I will be going back to see if I can re-create the first impression that I had.

I figured in fairness to WTC I would post this, although I would still recommend this place as I am hoping it is better more times than not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had lunch there today; first time I was there for lunch, and it's funny how different the 'vibe' of the place is. Not bad, just different. My friend thought the decor was gorgeous, and commented that "it's pretty swanky for a place that mainly does pizza," and I told him that I think the decor is even more striking at night. We arrived late (1:30), and there were only two other tables occupied, with another small 'rush' of 4-5 more tables by 2pm. Service was definitely better than it has been when I've had dinner, with water being refilled consistently throughout the meal. I hope that the crew is settling in and/or getting some more training, but my guess is that the wait staff is better at lunchtime because the night crew is at (high) school during the day.

Most importantly, the pizza was wonderful. He ordered the Funghi, I had the Ortolana again, and we each loved our pizzas. I didn't need utensils, and the crust was done to perfection. Roberto wasn't at the oven, but he did come through the dining room at some point. When I busted him about taking a day off, he said "Hey--he's from Naples too!" as he gestured towards the pizzaola (sp?). All good in my book... :smile:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope my not so great experience is a fluke because I truly loved it the first time out but I can see how WTC did have the experience she did because so did I. My husband thought that our pizza was probably too close to the fire and it cooked to fast outside/bottom and not enough though the crust. I am sure this can happen sometimes when using pizza ovens -- Again I highly recommend the place since it sounds like most times they are spot on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

We drove up to A Mano last night, since I had some serious wood-fired-oven pizza cravings left over from St. Louis. (St. Louis? I'll get there in a moment.)

Great space. Lots of tables a little after 9:00 - the advantage of being late diners. No service issues at all, everything was spot on & our server was very pleasant.

"Insalata A Mano" was refreshing, well dressed, & large enough to be easily shared.

The pizza itself, I'm sorry to say, was fairly dull. GREAT crust, as many others have noted, but nothing else on the pie quite rose to the same level.

Here, I think, is the key (from NorthJersey.com article):

Instead of a thick tomato sauce, A Mano uses finely chopped tomatoes seasoned with a little salt and doesn't even use the word "sauce" on its menu. The tomatoes taste fruity.

This I don't find to be a virtue; without the tang of onion & garlic that livens a good sauce, the whole ensemble falls rather flat. In fact, this is a pizzeria where there are no onions or garlic to be found on the premises. That doesn't really work for me.

My SO had the Capricosa which, inexplicably, arrived without the ham that was listed as an ingredient on the menu. She didn't really care so we didn't make an issue of it.

I had the Ortolana (sans eggplant). Since they're going for an authentic Neapolitan pizza here, I'd hoped that this one might be made with fresh artichokes & zucchini, but no, both were pickled - lightly, to someone's credit, but still pickled. I haven't been to Naples, so perhaps pickled = authentic, but my experience of pizza elsewhere in Italy has always been that the artichokes are fresh. I'd love to find a place that uses the fresh item somewhere on these shores.

The mushrooms & the mozz on the pie were quite good, so I wasn't dissatisfied, but I can't give that particular pie a rave either.

We also had the gelato, which was a bit much on top of a pizza, but who can resist gelato on a hot summer night? It was excellent, well flavored with a nice texture; the bacio, with its well roasted hazelnuts, was some of the best I've had anywhere.

Now, the St. Louis reference - on a short trip there 2 weeks ago, we'd had some of our favorite pizza ever at Il Vicino, a small chain (8 locations scattered between Albuquerque & StL) that puts together a pizza very similar to A Mano's and pops it into a wood-fired oven. The differences: they offer an excellent sauce on most of their pies and a much wider variety of first-rate toppings. (Their artichokes too are pickled, alas, but to my taste that's their only flaw.) I normally won't eat pizza more than once a month, it's just too heavy, but we dined at Il Vicino twice over four nights; their pizza is that good.

So yes, with Il Vicino still fresh in our minds, A Mano suffered a bit from the immediacy of the comparison. I still think that they're doing something really fine up in Ridgewood. I implore the guys who run the place to get some garlic & onions into the restaurant and onto the pies; that could make us regulars there.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just catching up on the last couple month's post on this, and I'm starting to wonder whether this place is a real hit or miss. After the very impressive first time there, I went back a few weeks later for lunch to a huge disappointment. The flavors were lacking and the crust was burnt on the bottom but a soggy mess on top. If this were my first experience, I wouldn't go back. Actually, I haven't been back since because I feel like it's playing russian roulette. Maybe it was bad because Roberto wasn't at the oven? Either way, it completely killed any intense hankerings for their pizzas I had initially.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess A Mano is just about personal taste...I've never been to Naples, and the first time I went, a friend commented that she would have liked more basil on her margherita pizza. We then talked to Roberto and some knowledgeable (and well-traveled friends) and now I've learned that this really is the real deal. And I'm fine with that. Everyone I've taken there has been given the "this isn't your normal pizza joint" speech, and without exception, they have enjoyed it and in turn, taken their family and friends.

For me, the only real disappointment I experienced at A Mano was with the service, which I agree has definitely improved. But I'm spoiled by that pizza; any time I try any others, I usually taste insipid, overly sweet sauce and/or canned ingredients, and I'm totally turned off.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...