Sal and Carmine
Founded by “the Dom DeMarco of Manhattan,” this Upper West Side pizzeria has been serving up slices and ices for more than 50 years.
After immigrating to the United States from Italy in 1957, Sal Malanga worked 22 hours a day to save up for a pizza shop, and in the summer of 1959, that dream became reality when he opened Sal & Carmine (salandcarmine.com) at 95th and Broadway in New York. He handled the dough, and his younger brother, Carmine, ran the counter. They sold nothing but pizza and Italian ices, and there was no advertisement and no delivery—just a work ethic that found Sal in the pizzeria seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Sal, who passed away three years ago, has been called a “legendary pie maker” and “the Dom DeMarco of Manhattan.” But for the family, his devotion was just normal. “My grandfather never took a day off. He was a funny guy, and everybody liked him. Everywhere we went, people knew him,” recalls Luciano Gaudiosi, current owner and grandson of Sal. “It was a great time when we were all here—even though my grandfather and uncle used to always fight. There are still marks on the wall from when it got hit with the roller. People would say, ‘We’re just here for the show.’”
Luciano remembers fondly some of Sal’s favorite phrases. Sal ran a tight ship—phone use or even sitting down were verboten for the staff—and told employees, “Just stand and wait for the people.” If a customer complained, he might tell them, “Go home and make your own pizza!” He did everything himself daily, from prep to finished product, saying, “A pizza man isn’t the guy outside; a pizza man is the guy inside, making the dough.”
In 1987, the business moved to its current location, several blocks uptown at Broadway and 102nd, where it has remained ever since. Carmine still comes in to run the counter with Luciano’s brother, George Adamopoulos, but Luciano follows in his grandfather’s footsteps by doing everything himself (after much reluctance, Sal showed Luciano how to make the pizza in the years before he passed). “I see myself as my grandfather; everything passes between my hands. It feels good to carry on and do what it takes to keep it going,” says Luciano, a college-educated engineer who used to work for Delta Airlines and, at 25 years old, had no choice but to take over the pizzeria when Sal died. “I knew I’d always stay here; we made a decision to keep Sal’s hard work going. I stayed because I like making people happy. People come here and feel good.” —Tracy Morin