My go-to pizzeria in Nassau County is Salvatore’s in Port Washington, but until last night I’d never visited its sibling in Bay Shore.
The Port Washington location, Long Island's first coal-oven pizzeria, opened in 1996, a modest storefront in a strip mall. You'd never know from looking at it that it serves some of the Island’s best pie. The Bay Shore store, in contrast, is spacious and well appointed with old-timey tile floors and dark woodwork. The coal oven has pride of place. At 64 square feet, it’s a third larger than the oven in Port Washington.
The menu is larger, too. Salvatore’s owner, Fred Lacagnina, explained: “Since it’s closer to the water, we added more seafood to the Bay Shore menu. The baked clams and linguine and clam sauce are really popular."
My friend and I started out with a clam pizza (no cheese, just chopped clams and “scampi” butter) that I felt could have used less clam and more good olive oil and garlic (in the style of the great clam pies at Frank Pepe's in New Haven, Conn.).
The “original Neapolitan pizza,” however, had the same excellent tomato sauce and mozzarella that characterize its counterpart in Port Washington. This crust didn’t have quite the supernal airy-but-toothsome texture that has characterized the best pies I've had at the original, but such is the nature of coal-oven pies: They are as individual as snowflakes.
The Pie at Salvatore’s opened on Main Street in Bay Shore in 2007 as a collaboration between the original Port Washington location and The Pie, another coal-oven operation in Port Jefferson. But by the end of the first year, the Port Jefferson restaurant relinquished its partnership. Lacagnina is now the sole owner of the Bay Shore and Port Washington locations.
The Pie at Salvatore’s is at 120 E. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-206-1060.
Clam (top) and Neapolitan pizzas at The Pie at Salvatore's in Bay Shore