819 Ninth Avenue, New York NY 10019; map); 212-582-7765
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: A classic slice of New York City
Price: Plain slices, $2.50, toppings add 75¢; plain pies, $14, toppings $2 each
I enjoyed two classics Wednesday night. First I headed up to Terminal 5 and watched British ska revival band The Specials blaze through a set so awesome and moving that I had to choke back tears. I have been listening to and watching the band since 1979, when I, along with with anyone else with sense, was caught up in the ska revival that swept the England that I grew up in that hot summer. The memories of my youth flooded back as the band blistered through a torrent of hits—"Too Much Too Young," "Do the Dog," A Message to You Rudy," "Stereotype"—and left me emotionally drained and physically tired. After the gig, needing food, I hopped in a cab and headed downtown—destination unknown. I was thinking Motorino or perhaps Pulino's. Clearly pizza was on my mind.
But as my cab sped down Ninth Avenue, I spotted Sacco Pizza, a place that looked as classic as The Specials sounded. In fact the current owners brought the place in 1975, a couple years before The Specials got their start as the Coventry Automatics, but Sacco might be as old as 50 years.
The menu is classic New York pizza shop, and the prices remain more than reasonable—a 16-inch pie that could easily feed 2 to 3 people (or one Slice reader) costs $14, and while you can get 99¢ slices around town, I doubt that it will taste nearly as good as the $2.50 offering from Sacco.
You won't find 50 pies with different toppings laid out on the counter nor gyros or shish kebabs. This is an old school pizzeria.
The crust is thin with a mild yeasty flavor and on the floppy side with a pleasingly chewy texture. There is some crunch to be sure, but it is blessedly not cracker crisp and has a softness and delicacy that it would not exhibit if it did. Truth be told, the slice that spends a bit longer in the oven tends to be better proportioned between crunch and pliancy, so I recommend you ask for it on the more well-done side.
The sauce is nicely balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity, it adds tang to counter the creaminess in the low-moisture mozzarella that melts beautifully over the pie. The toppings are all in perfect proportion, each component complementing the other.
You won't need these.
As balanced as the regular slice may be, larding one with pepperoni or sausage is equally compelling...
...as is ordering anchovies, which add an oily saltiness.
Sacco may not be considered a destination pizzeria like Di Fara in Brooklyn or Patsy's in East Harlem, places that practically demand a cross-borough pilgrimage for the pizza aficionado, but it sells as authentic a slice of New York–style pizza as anyone out there. It is a neighborhood pizzeria that any New Yorker would be proud to have around the corner from their home.