Daily Slice: Some Tips For Ordering Slices at Sal's
You'd think that working right in the heart of Little Italy, great pizza options would abound by the Serious Eats office. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Within a few block radius, there are plenty of $10-for-a-pizza-and-glass-of-wine lunch deal type places that offer inferior versions of the thin, crisp-crusted Roman-style pizza that defines the tourist-heavy sections of Little Italy's and Real Italy's all around the world. Real old-school New York slice joints, on the other hand, are thin on the ground.
There's Rubirosa up Mulberry Street offering great by-the-slice Staten Island bar-style pie, but it's thinner and crisper than a typical New York slice and doesn't quite quell the occasional craving for crisp-chewy crust, sweet sauce, and stretchy cheese.
No, for that, we've got basically two options: Rudy's on Hester street, which serves an unspectacular-but-not-terrible slice, and Sal's, recently moved to cleaner, brighter digs on Broome Street. It's a new location, but it still serves the same old pies.
Sal's was never the greatest pizza on the planet, or even in the neighborhood, but it can get the job done provided you know how to eat it. First off, these pies are almost always undercooked with barely melted cheese and a pale underbelly. The cooks and waiters are generally too busy canoodling with tourists to give two thoughts to the pies they're putting out. When you're ordering your slice, make sure to ask for it well done to solve this issue.
Last week Ed went over to Sal's to order a slice and stepped back into the office declaring, "this slice was terrible. This is the first time I actually had to put salt on a slice of pizza."
Ah, Ed. This brings us to Sal's second problem: chronic underseasoning. Their dough doesn't have enough salt, their sauce doesn't have enough salt, even their cheese. There are two ways to deal with this. First, you can ask them to put some salt on the pie before they start reheating it. This'll give it a bit of time to dissolve in the cheese and season the slice a little more thoroughly. Secondly, you can always add a salt-heavy topping like pepperoni to offset the lack of saltiness.
Will the pizza at Sal's ever be great? Not by a long shot. But given proper ordering technique, it can be a real savior in a neighborhood with a dearth of good by-the-slice options.