The Pie at Salvatore's
120 E. Main St. Bay Shore, NY 631-206-1060
Salvatore's goal is for family and friends meet to eat here. Heros, pasta, soups and salads are available, but the name of the game is the wide variety of pizzas. Cash only.Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Credit cards: Not Accepted
In Long Island's cutthroat pizza world, the rule is every pie maker for himself. Which makes it something of an anomaly that two guys at the top of their game -- Jimmy Pace of The Pie in Port Jefferson and Fred Lacagnina of Salvatore's Coal Oven Pizzeria in Port Washington -- decided to join forces and venture into Bay Shore as a team. Thus, The Pie at Salvatore's was born.
The place is darkly handsome -- fairly regal, as pizza parlors go. As a service to diners caught off guard by the restaurant's bothersome cash-only policy, an ATM machine is provided onsite. As annoying as this may be, the food compensates.
Lacagnina and Pace devised a pared-down menu that features, in addition to pizza, just a smattering of soups, salads, calzones and pastas. Less is often more.
One night, I ordered Italian wedding (meatball and escarole) soup, while my husband got chicken noodle. Mine was bland, his overly salty. A better way to start, I learned next time, was with the sprightly Greek salad.
The big draw here is the pizza that emerges from the restaurant's coal-fired brick oven. The "original" Neapolitan pie is beautifully blistered, a little puffy around the edges, its topping a meld of plum tomatoes, melted fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.
You can mix and match most pizza types and toppings, which means that it's possible to get half a pie crowned with broccoli rabe and sausage (a pleasingly assertive combination), while the other half is heaped with vegetables: artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers (a bit much, I thought). Yet the "supreme" pizza (loaded with bacon, meatballs, sausage, pepperoni and prosciutto), while heavy, somehow worked. What didn't work for me was the dry and overly garlicky clam pie. Nor was I wild about the shrimp and garlic topping; why put seafood on a pizza, anyway? On the other hand, nothing could have been simpler -- or better -- than the tomato and grated (Parmesan) cheese pie.
Both the ricotta and mozzarella-filled calzone and the sausage-stuffed roll were satisfying, the rigatoni filetto di pomodoro vibrant and properly al dente. A particularly light rendition of eggplant Parmigiana offered further proof that The Pie at Salvatore's may be about more than pie.
We left bearing leftovers in boxes. Of course, pizza is never quite the same on the reheat. So instead of spending calories on the standard Italian cheesecake and cannoli, I'd sooner polish off another slice or two at the table. Hot from the coal-burning oven, pizza like this is one of life's great rewards.
Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 3/30/07.