Update (20080119): the Bergen Record reports that Roberto Caporuscio is no longer with A Mano. More troubling, the approach to pizza-making has changed as well. Back to the original post...
Update (2009/02/10): A Mano has been retooling, and has had Roberto back to train the staff. Things are looking up: Update here (click me).
I've been closely watching the progress of Jerry's Gourmet in Ridgewood for months now. Jerry's in Englewood is a favorite of mine, and I was very pleased to see that they were opening a branch in Ridgewood. I was even more excited to hear that the restaurant attached would be a pizzeria, and serving real Neapolitan style pizza.
The excitement hit a fevered pitch earlier this week when I read on the Pizza Making Forum that a renown pizzaiolo (fancy-pants Italian word for "pizza maker") named Roberto Caporuscio would be manning the wood-fired ovens. The long-awaited climax came this afternoon, when I had the first bite of his creations. A Mano has finally opened.
Let's get right to it...
The "Regina Margherita" is the classic pizza of Bufala mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, and EVOO. It is an absolutely wonderful pizza, with a perfect balance of flavors. It's also a tremendous value at its current price of 10.99.
The "Mano" pizza is Bufala mozzeralla, proscuitto di parma, arugula, cherry tomatoes, shaved Gran Cru, and EVOO. You'll notice immediately that these ingredients are top notch. The arugula tastes as though it was just picked from a garden. The prosciutto is sliced thick enough to provide a nice chewy mouthfeel.
The dough is soft and chewy, just like I like it. You'll also get some nice char on the crust and bottom, due to the crazy-high heat of the oven, and the fussing over the pizza during cooking...
Wood-fried brick oven pizza making is far from a "throw it in the oven and let it go" process. Roberto often tends to the pizza, adjusting its position within the oven, lifting it above the pile of wood, feeding the fire with more wood. All of this fuss really pays off. I'm pleased to say that this is some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza that I've ever tasted. It compares favorably to the brilliant Anthony Mangieri of NYC's (formerly Point Pleasant Beach's) Una Pizza Napoletana.
A Mano is going to be ridiculously popular, with both local families, and pizza-loving foodies who will no doubt be coming in droves from New York and who knows where. Get yourself down there before you can't get near it. They're
in "preview" mode right now rocking and rolling, so it's probably a good a time as any to get your fix of Neapolitan pizza which, by the way, is the way God intended pizza.
A Mano : Chestnut Street at Franklin : Ridgewood, NJ : 201.493.2000