I have a saying and it goes a little something like this: “If Sally’s isn’t the best pizza you ever had, you’ve never had Sally’s.” Growing up as a young paesan in the Cove, Sally’s was the best thing you could see on the dinner table. Forget the bacon dad, bring home Sally’s.
Now I want to preface my love for Sally’s with a couple little known facts about myself.
- I do not prefer cheese pizza or, as I refer to it as, mozz. Normally, when I get pizza, I rely on toppings to accentuate the pizza. I am especially fond of a nice, greasy pepperoni, but I am no stranger to specialty pies.
- I have been in the food service industry since I was 15. I went from paying for my next pair of Jordan’s to paying next month’s rent (though to be fair, those are pretty similar amounts of money). Along the way, I held every role in the food industry, from washing dishes to waiting tables. Most recently, I was a waiter for three years at the best local Japanese restaurant (don’t worry — that story will be told in the future). I relied on my warmth and friendly, energetic service to survive.
- Since becoming a real life adult (i.e., no longer in college and now working a full time job), a couple of friends and I have gone to Sally’s every Wednesday for the past two years.
Now that I’ve proven my food bona fides, I put forth Sally’s perfection:
When we go to Sally’s, we order the same thing every time:
- 1 large mozz, 1 large white fresh tomato
- 1 small plain italian tomato with garlic
- Another small wild card pie ( we would go another small cheese or maybe a bacon if we were feeling frisky)
Every week, we’d show up, and without saying anything, our usual waiter Lorenzo, donning his customary cargo shorts, would point us to the nearest available seat. After about 5 minutes, he’d return ask if we were doing the usual and what the wild card pie was gonna be this week.
(Side note: we did not order drinks until about 3 months of doing this. I prefer to pair my slice with Foxon Park Birch, my friends generally opt for the Root Beer because they’re heathens.)
Occasionally, as we finished our final slices, we’d see a few rookies knock on the door around 8:45 or 9, thinking they had made it in the nick of time. We would laugh quietly when ‘Renz (yeah, we’re on a nickname basis) would unlock the door, give them the hard news, and watch as the would-be patrons balance looks of confusion and anger whilst they sullenly walk away.
Yeah, see here’s the thing about Sally’s… THEY DO NOT NEED YOU.
They do not care about what you think of their service. They do not care what you think about their business model. All they care about is pizza. That is the mentality that has made Sally’s the best pizza ever created. Usually, a restaurant lets anyone show up, all willy nilly, moments before closing and have a full meal (Yes, your cooks and servers hate you, no, they don’t spit in your food).
Not at Sally’s.
Sally’s is open: Wednesday through Thursday, 4-9, Friday 4-10, Saturday 3-10, and Sunday 3-9. For those of you who majored in History/Unemployment, that’s a total of 29 hours a week.
As someone who has done this for years, I cannot help but absolutely respect their attitude towards customers. It is not your god given right to have Sally’s, you have to earn it. That may be waiting in line for an hour, or sitting at your table without drinks for 45 minutes, or the possibility of not seeing your waiter at all. That’s on you pal. These are small sacrifices in the grand scheme of things.
It starts with the crust, thin as a razor blade and covered in cornmeal. Now, if you touch a pizza and your fingertips aren’t covered with the black powder of cornmeal, you, my friend have stumbled into the wrong place. I advise you to kindly to spit the pizza on the ground and ask for a refund because you ordered a pizza and whatever it is you happen to be eating is definitely not pizza.
The thinness of the crust creates a crisp texture that is with you on every bite. Miraculously, the razor-thin crust finds a way to transition from its crispy exterior to the soft, doughy upper crust that will soon be married with the sauce.
The sauce is the biggest mystery to me. By no means am I a chef, but the sauce is my favorite aspect of these legendary pies. Tangy with hints of spice and seasonings, it does not overwhelm the pizza, but, in my opinion, is the true foundation of these pies. There is a reason the first item on the menu is a “Plain Italian Tomato Pie”.
The sauce ties everything together. It is a work horse. No, a stallion. No matter what you mix it with, the result is going to be genetic perfection.
As I stated earlier, my general preference for pizza does not include mozz, not at Sally’s. At Sally’s, cheese is a topping the way pepperoni or sausage might be considered a topping elsewhere. I have mentioned the crispness of the crust, but it also retains its doughy aspects. Whereas the mozz is so crispy, it literally creates a snapping sound when you sink your teeth in to macerate bites off the slice you are currently holding.
I could go on (and on) about the virtues of Sally’s pizza, but you’ll never truly understand unless you have tried it yourself. To put it in perspective, literally every week I go, I think to myself: “Wow, this is better than I remembered”.
For at least a year, rumors swirled around Sally’s being sold. I heard grumblings the case was held up in court for a variety of reasons.
This only amplified our desire to get Sally’s as often as humanly possible. Nonetheless, week after week, things began to feel different. Famous pictures, signed by their famous counterparts, have slowly vanished from the walls.
Finally, as of the time I write these words, the sale Of Sally’s has now been made official (12/8/2017). There were rumors the restaurant was sold within the family, which was why the case was held up in court. However, the new owners will be revealed in January, so continuing to speculate is pointless.
People have speculated that Sally’s, under new ownership, will franchise and spread like Pepe’s. To which I reluctantly say: okay. Ninety percent of people say pizza is their favorite food, based on an imaginary poll I just made up in my brain, and yet they haven’t ever had good pizza.
Imagine if they tried Sally’s. The number may sky rocket to 99%. If more people can taste the pizza I grew up comparing every other pizza to, then fine. On one condition. Keep the pizza first mentality. No expanding the menu, no treating customers like they’re always right, no dabbling with new recipes and toppings. Keep it simple, keep it Sally’s.
So I implore you get your Sally’s while they are still operated by the original owners and pray to St. Anthony they don’t rob this institution of its glory. Until then, stay safe New Haven!
All photos lovingly stolen from Yelp.
I haven’t been back to Sally’s since 2009, when the guy working the door offered me and my friends homophobic abuse. Too bad. Their pizza is absolutely the best.