A generous helping of nostalgia is baked into the pizza served at Sammy’s Original Inferno, a new pizzeria with an old Long Island name, which opened last month in Papa Louie’s former East Meadow location.
From the 1950s through the 1990s, Sammy’s Inferno had been a go-to-pizza parlor for Levittown Baby Boomers hungry for a quick slice or a Friday-night dinner delivery.
Richard Waugh Jr., whose father, Richard Waugh Sr., owned Sammy’s Inferno in Levittown from 1980 to 1999, is reviving the name and retaining many of the features beloved by Long Islanders who grew up with his family’s pizza. “The name was such a household name, we kept it,” Waugh says.
Better still for Sammy’s Inferno fans, Waugh says he’s using the original pizza recipe, passed down to him and his father from previous owner and pizzeria namesake Sammy Esposito.
“It tastes exactly the same,” Waugh says of the pizza he began helping to make at age 11 under his father’s tutelage.
“It’s got snap on the outside and it’s soft on the inside,” Waugh says of the crust. For an extra kick of nostalgia, the original cash register and a photo of Waugh Sr. are displayed at the counter. And Claudette, Waugh Sr.’s widow, helps her son out, chatting with and serving guests at two small booths.
The original pizzeria was located in a small shopping center on Gardiners Avenue in Levittown. Founded as Charlie’s Inferno, it was taken over and renamed by Esposito in 1960. Waugh Sr., who made pizza there under Esposito, bought the business in 1980 and ran it until his death in 1999.
One of the pizzeria's innovations was a 30 cent “sauce hero” for local high school kids who came in hungry but couldn’t afford a slice. (Its price rose during the years, but was always a bargain.)
“Kids had no money back then and my father couldn’t give the food away for free, so for 30 cents he put sauce in the bread, for a sauce hero,” Waugh, Jr., says. Nowadays the sauce hero is an off-menu item, for $2.99.
The current menu features a small Neapolitan pie for $9.95, a large Neapolitan for $11.95 and a Sicilian for $13.95. A regular slice is $2.50. There’s also an assortment of calzones, hero sandwiches and entrees.
Sammy’s Inferno is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 9 p.m., Sundays.
Sammy’s Original Inferno, 495 Newbridge Rd., East Meadow, 516-783-7700, sammysinferno.com
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Sammy Esposito sold his pizzeria to Richard Waugh Sr.