Manhattan's Saluggi's, sitting unassumingly in the shadow of Chinatown, makes a good case for expanding the "artisanal" tag beyond neo-Neapolitan pies to include New York-style slices. When Jeff Orlick, author of the Real Pizza of New York iPhone App, tipped me off to this Tribeca newcomer, he piqued my curiosity: here was a whole-pie pizzeria standing up for the quality of a single slice. After confirming that Saluggi's offers its "red pie" by the slice, I hopped onto the N train for a taste.
Though Saluggi's brick-oven pies lack the smokey flavor that gives Neapolitan pies some of their irreplaceable character, the crust is still a treat. Cracker thin at its point yet completely taut throughout, it maintains a light crunch and a consistent chew. As the textural backbone of a slice, it couldn't be stronger.
After spreading a tangy tomato sauce over their pizza dough, Saluggi's cooks sprinkle grated Parmesan into the mix, then toss chunks of of house-made mozzarella on top until almost every inch is covered. Legendary it ain't, but the quality of ingredients and attention to detail show when I'm handed a piping hot slice, hit with an extra pinch of Parmesan and topped with fresh basil leaves. It's a slice that balances form and function, delivering quality, quantity and simplicity for $3.00.
In other words, it's everything New York pizza needs to be.
325 Church Street, New York NY 10013 (Between Canal and Lispenard; map)