Dish no. 96: Pizza from Sal & Carmine’s (2671 Broadway, 212-663-7651)
When discussing something as ubiquitous and subjective as pizza in New York, it’s important to pay tribute to the institutions that laid the way for the pizza renaissance of the mid-2000s. One such place is Sal & Carmine’s, a neighborhood slice joint on the northern edge of the Upper West Side. The family-owned pizzeria has been slinging some of the city’s best cheese-and-sauce-topped bread for over 50 years. Sal and Carmine Malanga started the business in 1959, though now it’s Carmine and Sal’s grandson, Luciano Gaudiosi, who run the show. We could wax poetic about the towers of pizza boxes stacked high, Carmine’s no-bullshit attitude, and the shop’s resistance to delivery — and someday, we definitely will — but the parlor’s success could easily be predicated on its product alone. The dough is yeasty-fresh and usually baked to a terracotta brown underneath while remaining heavily floured on top, and the duo uses aged mozzarella, which has a more pronounced flavor than the milkier stuff found on Neapolitan pies. The other two main ingredients are perfect foils for the pizzeria’s bold sauce, which has a concentrated sweetness and tang that bolsters everything it touches.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we’re traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They’re presented here as a countdown, but we’re listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what’s good to eat in this town right this very second.