Update: As of March 30, Manicinni's is officially open!
Update: Mancinni's will not be opening on Thursday, March 22. Delayed until the weekend.
We’ve been watching Mancinni’s Coal Oven Pizza develop since December.
Today, Mancinni’s Coal Oven Pizza will host a friends and family soft opening, and on Thursday, March 22 (fingers crossed), Mancinni’s will officially open to the public.
I met with Australian-born chef and manager Lizzy Singh-Brar, and Italian-born Pizzaiolo, Tony Buono, to find out a little more about what Mancinni’s will be offering. I was happy (and a bit relieved) to find that Mancinni’s is not going to be just another pizzeria.
According to Lizzy, “It would be foolish to put together a menu you could get anywhere.” Therefore, the menu Lizzy created is “traditional, with a twist.” Lizzy is a gastronomic purist, “If something is beautiful in it’s natural form, there’s no need to fool with it too much.”
That said, the menu, features creative salads, like raw kale with roasted beets and pumpkin seeds ($7.50), and artichoke salad with marinated artichokes, radicchio, arugula ($9), and an herb salad with arugula, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, goat cheese, raisin bread and house dressing ($9).
There are also sides of house made garden pickles ($5), fire-roasted tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic reduction ($6), and fire roasted cremini mushrooms with ricotta, and thyme honey ($6).
Speaking of fire roasted - what about the pizza? Pizza will be offered in 12” and 16” sizes. The menu begins with the Classic, simply tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil ($9/$15). There’s also the Puttanesca, which is the classic plus anchovies, kalamata olives and capers ($10/$16). Assorted topping options include heritage prosciutto, heritage sopressata, pancetta, cremini mushrooms, sausage, roasted red peppers, roasted artichokes, as well as more traditional items like pepperoni and onions.
Sandwiches on house made rolls are priced at $9. Mancinni’s offers a vegetarian option with fresh mozzarella, tapenade, roasted red peppers, artichoke, and greens. And the cured-pork-lover gets a nod with a heritage prosciutto or heritage sopressata sandwich.
Even the soda is a cut above the norm. Mancinni’s will offer Fizzy Lizzy, and Boylan's at $2.50.
But what about the coal? The oven, which reaches temps of 900 degrees plus, was imported from Italy and constructed on-site. The mixture inside the oven is anthracite coal with wood placed atop the coal.
When I walked in, Tony was teaching assistant cook, Franklin Bryant, how to properly shift the coal and wood around. “Don’t put too much,” Tony cautioned, “you don’t want to choke the fire.” Lizzy later explained that the coal keeps the hearth hot, while the heat from the wood comes down from the top of the oven. Therefore, both the wood and coal must be distributed evenly. Yet another culinary art!
Mancinni’s Coal Oven Pizza is owned by Mike Winsch and Paul Daley. Two Italian boys? Not quite. Neither of the owners are named Mancinni - or even Mancini. So why is the restaurant named Mancinni’s? Here’s the story, according to co-owner, Paul Daley:
“Terry Mancini played football for Arsenal and Queen Park Rangers in the mid 1970’s and even with a name like Mancini; Terry played his international football for the Republic of Ireland. I am a lifelong Q.P.R. supporter and used to drink in a pub called the Golden Gloves which was located in Hammersmith west London (where my family is from) and the establishment was owned by Tony Mancini, Terry’s cousin and Alf Mancini who was Terry’s Dad. My Granddad Jim Daley used to drink in the pub many moons before me and was old friends with Alf. Also, upstairs over the bar there was a boxing ring where - legend has it - the British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper would train from time to time, so the place was well regarded.
The restaurant is called Mancinni’s for a couple of reasons, my partner Mike and I are English and Irish American respectively without a trace of continental flair whatsoever, our surnames being Winsch and Daley would have sounded like a plumbing firm so the rational in naming the place Mancinni’s was it sounds a bit continental without going over the top. And it recalls my youth and love for Q.P.R along with tying in my Granddad and a bit of the Daley family history.
Old Jim Daley didn’t get to see the restaurant but I know he would have been thrilled about it so that’s why it is what it is”.
Now, with the back story behind Mancinni’s – make sure to get down there on Thursday, March 22nd and grab yourself a pie. Mancinni’s will also be offering slices of pizza with traditional toppings. The operating hours at Mancinni's will be Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am to 9 pm.
For those wondering, the Mancinni’s website and Facebook page are not yet up, but are on the way.
Mancinni's Coal Oven Pizza
438 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042