Pizza on Long Island is constantly reinventing itself, and the ranks of local pizzerias swell as the new entries fire up their ovens. In the past year alone, two traditional wood-oven Neapolitan spots (Flip and Red Tomato) have opened, as have two coal-oven venues (Sacramone's and Long Island's second Anthony's). Then there's Angelina's, whose gas-fired oven produces pies topped with the likes of tandoori chicken, pineapple and mashed potatoes. How to integrate these brave new pizza stars into your existing lineup?
There's only one way: Eat more pizza.
Crisp-crusted artisan pizzas are truly out-of-the-box at this eccentric newcomer. Best is the Desi, topped with tandoor-baked chicken, basmati rice, cilantro and mozzarella. A surprise winner is the Wowee Maui featuring mozzarella, ham, pepperoni, bacon and pineapple. Then, there's the Big Mack, evoking the golden arches with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and special sauce. Even a conventional tomato-mozzarella grandma pie works. Angelina's also serves burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and spicy wings that range from hot to ridiculously hot to insanity.
Pizzas come in 10-, 14- and 18-inch sizes; the largest cost around $20.
137 Old Country Rd., Carle Place, 516-877-7750
At these two branches of a Florida-based chain, virtually everything is cooked in an 800-degree coal oven. That oven has the power to transform cauliflower into a pizza topping that must be eaten to be believed: the unsung vegetable tamed into sweet, mellow submission after being roasted with olive oil and garlic, showered with Romano, mozzarella and bread crumbs. The Margherita, here called "traditional," is very good, if less supernal than the cauliflower. Other pies include Philly cheesesteak and eggplant Marino (quarterback Dan Marino is a partner of founder, and Long Island native, Anthony Bruno).
Pizzas come in 12- and 16-inch sizes; the larger cost around $20.
Flip's focus is its gorgeous, orange-tiled, wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Admire it while you place your order, then go find a table. Your pizza will be delivered shortly: The Neapolitan-style pies (imported flour, imported tomatoes, puffy crust) bake in less than two minutes. Innovative pies here are very good: The Diavolo features hot sopresatta, pepper flakes and spicy honey; a pistachio pie is topped with garlic, nuts, mozzarella, roasted red onions, grated grana Padano, rosemary and oregano. The Margherita made with fior di latte mozzarella is textbook good, and better than the more expensive one with buffalo mozzarella.
The 12-inch pies are between $7.50 and $14.
6245 Northern Blvd., East Norwich
With Red Tomato, the Messina family continues its conquest of East Norwich. It already owns La Bonne Boulangerie and Messina Market, as well as Dortoni Bakery in Levittown, but paterfamilias Lello Messina was born and raised in Naples, and Red Tomato is a love letter to his hometown. The 14 pizzas (half red, half white) hew pretty closely to the Neapolitan tradition of sparingly topped individual 12-inch pies, made with imported flour and tomatoes, baked in a wood oven with a gas "assist." The Margherita is hard to beat, but the Quattro Stagioni (with artichokes, ham, olives and mushrooms) comes close. For dessert, try Nonna Messina's pie with Nutella and marshmallows.
The 12-inch pies are $13 to $18.
This new East Meadow restaurant is the offshoot of the fabled Astoria pizzeria, Sac's Place. In good, old-school New York tradition, the pizza oven is fired by coal. With its crisp, fragrant crust topped with a confluence of fresh mozzarella, basil and crushed San Marzano tomatoes, Sacramone's signature pie -- Mama's Old-Fashioned -- is pretty indistinguishable from a Margherita. Purists (or the lactose intolerant) will enjoy the cheese-free marinara; lactophiles can opt for the white pie, with mozzarella and ricotta. The 16 available toppings include fried eggplant, sauteed portobello, anchovies, chicken cutlet. Sacramone's also has an excellent wine list.
Pizzas come in 10-, 14- and 18-inch sizes; the largest cost around $18.