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
I grew up around the corner from Sal and Carmine’s. Their pizza is the best slice I have ever eaten. When I went away to college in Canada, it was Sal and Carmine’s pizza that I missed the most. I used to take the overnight Greyhound bus back home for vacation, and instead of taking the express train after an eight hour bus ride, I’d get on the local train (the 1), get off at 103rd St. and Broadway and go straight to Sal and Carmine’s for a slice (or two) with my suitcase and all. Only then would I go home and see my family.
In the mid 1960’s my mother would give my brother a dollar and after boy scouts at PS 75 he and I would go to Sal’s next to the Symphony and we would each get two slices and a 10 cent soda in a paper cone nestled in a plastic holder. Sal and Carmine were the nicest guys and I made a kid feel welcome and safe. One hot day a friend and I bought slices at Sal’s and went a block downtown to eat them sitting down at Phil’s. Needless to say we were soon chased out but I can honestly say we didn’t know better. All we knew was that Sal’s tasted better. I’m so glad the tradition is carrying on for the next generations.
I can still remember as a child coming all the way from Brooklyn because my father said this was the best slice in nyc. He insisted he , my sister and I go there and he was right !! Good times on the west side
I lived not far from Sal and Carmine when I was a boy growing up in Manhattan. My dad used to take me to Sal and Carmine to get pepperoni slices. I remember the grease from the fresh pepperoni running out of the pizza all over my arm when I tilted my neatly-folded slice back to take that first delicious bite. I have not been there since the 1980s but would love to return some day to see how the descendants are doing.
I had added this location to my google maps with a “want to go” flag. Finally had the opportunity to go this Saturday with two of my sons. Each of them got 2 cheese slices and I had a white slice and a spinach-topped one. It was perfect. The right balance of crispy and chewy. The bottom had that snap when folded, but the rest of the very thin crust was moist and chewy. Sauce was just the right bit of tang and sweet. I know it was great because my 8 year old, who weighs just over 60 lbs. was able to polish off two of them! I will be happy to make another trip there when I get the chance.
I grew up on Sal and Carmines Pizza back in the 70’s and 80’s. Loved talking to Sal and Carmine. I remember when I moved to California and I’d come back to visit my mom the first place I’d go back to visit was Sals and Carmines 🙂
[…] exotic Chinese food, daring my dad to try the sea cucumber. Grabbing slices of pizza from Sal and Carmine (still offering the best pizza in NYC) and eating them off a paper plate while I stood on the […]
Like others here, Sals has been in my life since I was old enough to walk. Just took my daughter there last weekend when we were visiting NYC. Of course, I miss seeing Sal and Carmine behind the counter. Started walking there with my Dad when he would pick me up in first grade and then was delighted when the business moved across the street from where we lived. My parents still live there so of course, I stop by for a slice when I am in town! There are few things constant in life and Sal’s is one of those things. Happy that I can still bring my daughter there for a slice! Rest in Peace Sal and Carmine.
[…] — I wanted one of the best slices New York City had to offer, straight from the gas-fired oven of Sal and Carmine, a New York institution since 1959. So what if it was 4 miles (83 blocks) away in the Upper West […]
As a kid went to 95 street location. Best pizza and continued over the years. Always stop by when in City. Recently however, when I stopped for a pie…. It doesn’t taste the same. Cheese and dough differ.
There isn’t another piece of pizza like Sal and Carmine. I was 8 when they opened on 95th- they competed with a larger place called Phil’s and ran it out of business with their quality. I love I. Los Angeles now and the first stop on any trip to NY is here. Nothing like it.