Posted by: Orlick | June 2, 2010

Sal’s of Little Neck Pizzeria

This was originally published in Serious Eats, where I got the comment: “I’m not sure if that was written in English, but the slice looks classic!” I love it. Note: Early reports say Sal has retired! This puts a weird spin on this review, doesn’t it?

Sal’s of Little Neck
254-19 Northern Blvd
Little Neck, NY
718-423-1192

Here’s Sal. Not too hard at work. He’s got confidence in his shop and he’s certain about his pie. No other would matter. Sal is boistrous at times, gangly, friendly, bitter, loving, careless… all those things. And in the changing demographic of his neighborhood, where he is now the minority, there are less customers, yes, but even less pizzerias to keep them satisfied. So if profit is down 40 percent since the 90s, is he holding on because of a sustainable business model or just his pride?

sals little neck (8)

How long has that ices drawing been on the wall?
Probably 8 years… Nahh, actually more. More like 10. Ehh, probably more.

Sal’s an interesting character. Most people will comment on Sal himself, before his pizza. While both are unique, the character of Sal is always mentioned first, as I have done here.

His pies are served one at a time, which is a rarity now. A holdout. A relic. Now, only pizzerias with strongest ties to the pre-80s hold this tradition, such as Lucia’s and Amore in Flushing. They don’t advertise chicken and broccoli slices under a glass dashboard, they use only their most recent pie, located 10-feet from the oven. They cut the nearest slice and apply toppings by request. Businessmen are laughing at these owners’ anemic marketing strategy, while pizzamen like Sal laugh at the suits’ lack of integrity. I don’t think Sal has ever contemplated what he’d rather have when he dies: Money or Integrity.

IMG_5077
IMG_5079
sals little neck (5)

Here’s Sal’s regular slice. It’s got decades of char catching onto the crust. It’s tough, without a sag. The floured bottom collapses like plate tectonics. It’s taste is the standout for the slice though. It couldn’t be the cheese, not that thin mesh blend. It feels irregular, being soft, not gooey. Even the flavor is not as intense as I’d like it to be, as the crust is saltier than the cheese. And the cheese knows that the crust is where it’s at, as evidenced by it’s own bubbles climbing up onto the coastline.

IMG_5083

Sal’s Sicilian reminds me more of an arcade slice. The crust is about 3/4″ thick and sponge-like. Some might consider it underdone, others thick and savory, with an unbelievable 10-second crust return-to-normalcy-time from bite.

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I find myself wanting to go back. I don’t believe there’s any rush to though. Sal’s of Little Neck will go strong nearing it’s 50 year anniversary in 2025, he won’t quit. If he did, what would be Sal?

It is a remarkable slice and a deserving destination, but is it number one in the city or even Queens?

No, but Sal is.

Sal’s MySpace (run by his daughter)
Citysearch reviews
5-star rating on Yelp

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Responses

  1. Wow….this takes me way, way back! My co-workers and I have had our lunch break at Sal’s a good few times (this was back in the early 90’s) when we wanted to walk down Northern Blvd. from Great Neck (where we worked) and have a bit of a break from our local pizza joint (Napoli’s). Sal’s does excellent slices, I definitely agree. And I remember Sal himself, as well. Definitely a lovely, lively, jovial, genuine kind of guy. He was (still is, I’m sure) serious about his pizza and the way it was made.

    Thanks for checking this great pizza parlour out. It brings back a lot of great memories for me, and, as you said yourself, h and the place itself are well deserving of a write-up. Oh, and thanks for the photo of the place, and a bit of that part of Northern Blvd. I miss Queens more than I realize.


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