Clicking in to the Slice inbox today, we've got an awesome piece of intel on Staten Island pizza.
As a Staten Island resident for all of my life, I thought I could give you some insight on the places i've been to, as well as a new place that seems undiscovered, but in my opinion, has better pizza than Joe & Pats and definitely Nunzio's.
First, you have to understand my reasons for e-mailing you. I am a college student in my first year at Loyola College in Maryland, and cannot go without pizza. If you could, foward me some suggestions to pizza down here in Baltimore that is similar to NYC pizza because my roommate (who is from Queens) and I are HURTING. While I may have told my parents I wanted to see my brother's play, I made a trip last weekend back just because I needed some EDIBLE pizza in my system. Most of the stuff my roommate and I have tried down here is just thick crust, tons of bad cheese garbage. So once again, if you know of anywhere down in Baltimore that would have similar pizza to NYC pizza, please point me in that irection.
Now for some opinions on the current state of pizza in Staten Island: [After the jump.]
Nunzio's: Boy, has this place gone downhill for some reason or another. I absolutely loved this place before they renovated in 2004-2005-ish. The atmosphere wasn't that appealing, but it had character. Wood walls, overused seating and chairs, neon signs, rundown red carpets, and a jukebox. It could be called a cave of sorts. It was dark, and the lighting was terrible, but the pizza made you forget about all of this. I have so many memories of such great pizza form this place, but unfortunately they have all gone down the drain since their building was renovated. I don't know if there were new owners or if anything changed behind the counter, but the pizza's quality has certainly declined. Too much grease and cheese to fit on one slice. I don't really enjoy my experience there as much as I used to. Now that I think of it, I barely go there anymore. It's a DECENT slice, but not what it used to be. You should definitely go back and revisit this place and see if you can notice what I am talking about.
Lee's Tavern: For the most part, I agree with your review of this pizzeria. I know one of the owner's sons, so I sometimes frequent this establishment when I'm in the area with a few of my friends and want a free pie. As much as I like their pizza and the atmosphere of the place, I sometimes feel like the pizza isn't REALLY pizza. It feels, simply, like dough with some sauce and cheese on it. I feel as if a good slice should taste good, but be filling at the same time. I'm not denying the quality of their pies (they are good), but the feeling you get when you eat the pizza should go along with the quality. I could go in there and eat an entire pie by myself, and I'm a very skinny guy. Good pizza though.
This place is my new #1 favorite pizza on Staten Island. He has a rotating, coal-fired oven, and the atmosphere is really great. It's small and loud, but it has the feel of an Italian kitchen. The red-booth-style seating and worker's uniforms are a very nice touch. His pizza is nothing short of unbelieveable. It's the perfect combination of sauce, cheese, thin-crust, and a truly light-but-filling slice. I also highly encourage ordering either the garlic bread, or the fried calimari (or, as in Staten Island speech, pronounced: "fried gal-i-mahd") as an appetizer. The wait staff is nice and friendly, and the time spent waiting for a pie is relatively short with regards to the overall quality of the pizza. YOU NEED TO GO HERE ASAP... I can't even describe how good this pizza is. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
If you need any more advice with pizza on Staten Island, or are just wondering about my insights on certain places, don't hesitate to ask.
Thanks for this juicy bit of intel. Somehow the Salvatore's of SoHo joint flew under my radar as having a coal oven. That is HUGE.
I think a car-rental and trip to Shaolin is in order.
Sorry that you can't find pizza you like in Baltimore. Maybe some of the Slice readers can chime in on suggestions. Usually every city of more than X-size has a New York expat making supposedly "New York-style" pizza. It's often not as good as what you get here but is better than most other options in the area.
There's a guy out of the South who has a site that lists NY-style pizza joints around the country. Unfortunately, I lost the URL in a computer crash and now am unable to find it on Google. If we can find that, that map might help you.
I'll have to check out Salvatore's. Strange that it's a "rotating coal oven." I know of rotating ovens, and coal ovens, but have never seen a rotating coal oven. Will be a sight to see, I'm sure.
Thanks again, and, hasta la pizza,