Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sal and Carmine's: "I doubt I have much to say about this one that you haven't heard before."

I've been to Sal and Carmine's twice now for Slice Harvester. A few weeks ago it was the last pizzeria I visited with my fast friend Johnny Dress Pants, formerly Johnny No Pants, but his fashion sense has changed now that he's an old man. (Happy Birthday, asshole!) Sadly, John and I were so enamored with each other's company that we didn't really pay much attention to the fantastic slice. And I'll tell you, it's gotta be a pretty excellent hangout/reunion to distract me from the incredible slice at S and C's.

For those uninitiated, the nondescript awning above houses one of the best slices of pizza in New York. While the $3.00 price seems steep for a regular slice, I will vouch that it's totally worth it, and I'm a cheap piece of shit. Anyway, last week I returned to Sal and Carmine's with Caroline and Mikey and we indulged ourselves in a superior slice.

Fuck. The thing about this slice is that the ingredients are all incredible. The dough is impeccable. It tastes incredible and is always cooked perfectly. They didn't even throw my slice back in the oven and it was perfectly crisp on the bottom. The ratios are a dream. Just the right amount of bread::sauce::cheese. And the flavors are great. The aged mozzarella really tastes like CHEESE, which shouldn't be special, but these days is totally a rarity. The sauce is delicious and rich, more flavorful than I prefer, but it works so well on this slice. And the crust! The crust is a dream come true. Crispy on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, with just a hint of salt. It's unstoppable. This is a great slice for a cold, rainy day. It really fills you up with that sweet food-warmth that only good grub can, the kind that starts at your belly and slowly spreads out over your whole body.

This slice is a little richer than I'd want to eat on a regular basis, but whenever I'm in the neighborhood, it's a treat I love to indulge. It's refreshing to know that in the current climate of Gourmet Gruel and Hundred-Dollar Hamburgers there are still people out there who continue to make simple foods simply, but artfully. This isn't an anti-intellectual tirade, and I'm not railing about complexity or toying with tradition. But it's so easy to get caught up in trying to make everything new and incredible, that one can easily forget about the basics. I harp on this notion all the time, but the most elementary seeming things can be the hardest to perfect. Pizza is a great example and Sal and Carmine's have come damn close.

Sal and Carmine's
2671 Broadway
New York NY 10025


  1. Slice Harvester, you got this right. I agree wholehartedly, except I think their slices are perhaps a tiny bit too salty. Not that that stops me from making special trips up there often.
    A little history, Sal and Carmine have been on the Upper West Side for close to 40 years. They used to be right next to the movie theater that is now the Symphony Space. (I think it was the Symphony movie theater.) It was called just "Sal's" then, but Carmine is around.

    As far as I know, since Vinnie's on Amsterdam Avenue closed a few years ago, this place is the absolute last of the real Old New York pie places left on the Upper West Side.

    Obviously, these guys are not that young anymore. I shudder to think what happens when they retire.

  2. Ron,

    Thanks for the history! It's readers like you who make doing this blog so great and worthwhile.

    I hate to be a Bummer Bearer if you hadn't heard already, but Sal actually passed away this summer.

    They did a really sweet obituary over at Slice:

    Thanks for reading!

  3. You're welcome. I have made a few other comments but for some reason, they call me ron here, and ronwass on all the others. This was the first time I heard about Sal. Very sad. I assume Carmine is still working. The last time I went in there was a younger guy there. I hope he continues the business.

    The other place I mentioned, Vinnies, which was on Amsterdam and about 73rd, those guys retired when their rent was tripled about seven or eight years ago. One of their sons took over for a couple of years. He spent a fortune renovating, turning the place into what looked like a very spiffy restaurant, although the pizza still was just about the same. But then his rent tripled again, and he gave up the ghost. A couple of years later I ran into one of the old partners working out at the West Side YMCA gym. I practically kissed him it was so nice to see him. He said he was very happily retired. After a few decades he had gotten tired of the 16 hour days 6 or 7 days a week. May he have a long life.

  4. goddamn it vinnie's is gone. i wanted you to go there so badly :(

  5. Perfect crust, but salty as hell. Definitely not a perfect slice.

  6. It IS the perfect slice, Anonymous. For me, it's the best by-the-slice place in the world, period. Some of us like it salty.

  7. for those who dont know mamas pizzeria (106th and amsterdam) which used to be between 104 and 105st on broadway have been around just as long if not longer than sal n carmines...they always served me a great slice at the ridiculously cheap price of 1.90!! Im all for paying the piper for good food but im not buying into the gimmick sals is too salty id rather give mamas the 1.90...and the zeppoles pshhh...if ya dont know about that ya def gotta go to 106th and enlighten yourselves

  8. Just wondering what happened to my old comments on this post! (?)


  10. I have to agree with the "salty" comments. I'm not into salt-free food by a long shot but a little goes a very long way with me. I used to eat a lot at Sal and Carmine years ago when I spent time in the neighborhood but the salt kept me from being enamored (and is the primary reason why I'm the only person on the planet who finds Di Fara pizza almost inedible, nice though Dom may be). Just a personal preference.

  11. okay, now i know i can trust you.

    if you said this pizza sucks then i would never read your blog again.

    but you like sal and carmine's and pizza suprema.

    you're good.

  12. I grew up on this pizza. This place has been an institution since the 1960's -- originally on 95th and Broadway next to The Symphony. I love taking my kids here and telling them every time, "I ate this exact slice when I was your age."

    My one quibble: It's a salty slice.