14. Adrienne’s Pizzabar
54 Stone St., nr. William St.; 212-248-3838
In this pizza town, there are good round-pie men and there are good square-pie men. Rare is the switch-hitting pizzaiolo who does well by both. Dom DeMarco of Di Fara Pizza is, of course, a member in good standing of this elite, ambidextrous club. But the Mickey Mantle of the squad is the prolific Nick Angelis (see also Nick’s Pizza), who branched out into the square-pie business late in his career with this four-year-old spot, and ever since, the only complaint anyone’s had about this surprise move is that Nick hadn’t made it sooner. This is thin-crust pan pizza called “old-fashioned” on the menu. Long Islanders will recognize it as Grandma style, a native permutation, and, if they can bring themselves to admit it, declare the delicately crunchy stuff superior to anything they can get in Nassau County. Besides a good crust, what elevates it above the norm is fastidious ingredient sourcing, including top-notch mozzarella that gets deliciously browned on top as Grandma pies often do. A special-request sausage-and-broccoli-rabe pie is rich and juicy, a minor masterpiece. The fact that you can eat it outside the restaurant on a beautiful cobblestone street closed to traffic is another rare treat.
435 Halsey St., at Lewis Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant; 718-574-1988
This weeks-old Bed-Stuy spot gives the lie to the idea that making great pizza requires a lifetime of practice and a Neapolitan ancestry. Not that those things hurt. But judging by the Saraghina model, all that may be required, it seems, is commitment, passion, and a friend with a good dough recipe. Saraghina’s owners, Edoardo Mantelli and Massimiliano Nanni, have all that. “I’ve been obsessed with pizza all my life,” says Mantelli, the pizzaiolo of the pair, who also co-owns the clothing brand Tocca. After years of stubbornly refusing to follow his bliss, he finally apprenticed himself to his pizza hero, Michele Iuliano of Luzzo’s, and, while it’s too soon to say that the student has surpassed the master, he’s already come pretty close. It’s certainly helped that Iuliano was willing to give up his top-secret flour-mixture formula and adapt it to Saraghina’s wood-burning oven. Now, Mantelli’s pies are more classically Neapolitan in style than Luzzo’s, with a puffier cornicione, good hole structure, and a moist crumb. The tomato sauce is sweet and vibrant, the buffalo mozzarella is first-rate, and the joy that the city’s newest pie guys take in their fledgling profession is palpable.
16. Salvatore of Soho
1880 Hylan Blvd., nr. Slater Blvd., Staten Island; 718-979-7499
It’s highly unlikely, but possible, that anyone who lives in Soho has eaten at Salvatore of Soho. That’s because the restaurant is located on Staten Island. Although the Salvatore in question (Sal, for short; last name Ganci) now resides in that hinterland, he grew up in Sheepshead Bay and got his start in the pizza business at Famous Ben’s of Soho (actually in Soho). “Since I’m 15, I spent most of my time in Manhattan,” he says. “When I’d go home to Brooklyn, they’d call me Soho Sal.” Later, Sal manned the oven at Lombardi’s, which did nothing toward relieving him of his nickname, but put him on what he calls the gourmet-pizza fast track. Now, he’s making the best pie in a borough that prides itself on the stuff. It’s Old School New York Neapolitan hybrid pizza served in a snug, nostalgia-heavy shop. Thanks to an infernal coal-and-gas oven with a revolving floor (Sal’s own design), the crust gets so crisp and blackened the menu comes with a disclaimer: “served charred and well done.” S.O.S. makes a decent clam pie, but our favorite is the plain old cheese-and-tomato with house-made mozzarella. Sal’s favorite is the fried calamari and hot cherry peppers—a creation he whipped up one day as an impromptu staff meal (for himself) at Famous Ben’s, and something that might cause flames to shoot from the eyes of the average pizza-eating Neapolitan.
17. Sullivan St Bakery
533 W. 47th St., nr. Eleventh Ave.; 212-265-5580
It’s possible to forget that bread ever existed in New York before Jim Lahey came along, with his pane Pugliese and ciabatta. But pizza has always been part of his repertoire, too—not the magnificent round, Neapolitan-esque pies he’s just begun baking at Co., but his chewy, salty pizza bianca and the thin Roman-inspired squares that manage to retain their taste and texture even when served room temperature, as they are at his Hell’s Kitchen shop and at Grandaisy, the proliferating bakery chainlet born of an amicable settlement with Lahey’s former business partner. Baked in oil-slicked pans until the edges crisp up a little, the pies are topped with inventive, often seasonal ingredients: shaved celery root and nutmeg in the fall; julienned zucchini, Gruyère, and a smattering of bread crumbs; or, on our favorite, the simple but unfathomably satisfying Pomodoro, a sweetly intense slick of tomato, olive oil, and salt.