Bravo per­for­mance

David Bur­ton sam­ples a wedge of Sal’s finest and con­cludes that the pizza lives up to its billing.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Dine -

Although clear stan­dards can be met for the orig­i­nal wood­fire pizza of Naples, the no­tion of an “au­then­tic” New York-style pizza seems dis­tinctly more ten­u­ous.

Yet the New York pizza does have its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, the most im­por­tant be­ing that it is cooked in a gas oven, mean­ing the base is crisp on the bot­tom and chewy to­wards the top.

New York­ers like every­thing big, so their pizza mea­sures a hu­mon­gous 18 inches in di­am­e­ter, ne­ces­si­tat­ing ex­tra gluten to stretch the dough so wide. Cal­i­for­nian toma­toes typ­i­cally go into the fresh tomato sauce, which un­like the Neapoli­tan orig­i­nal, con­tains many flavour­ings. There’s al­most an ex­cess of moz­zarella, yet the num­ber of top­pings on a New York pizza is sur­pris­ingly re­strained – per­haps only cheese, mush­rooms and some ex­tra-hot Amer­i­can pep­per­oni, as in the Man­hat­tan.

Con­sid­er­ing each and ev­ery one of these spec­i­fi­ca­tions was sat­is­fied in the great wedge of Man­hat­tan laid be­fore me in Welling­ton’s new­est pizze­ria the other day, I’d have to con­clude that Sal’s Au­then­tic New York Pizza lives up to its boast. Bravo!

Sal’s is late com­ing to Welling­ton; this pizza chain orig­i­nated in Auck­land nine years ago.

The founders, one a Kiwi and the other an Amer­i­can, ap­proached Sal­va­tore “Sal” Leo, the

PHOTO: KEVIN STENT

long-time owner of a mod­est pizze­ria (Sal’s Pizza) in Queens, New York and per­suaded him to re­veal his recipe. Some ef­fort has been made to source Us-built pizza ovens, plus on­go­ing im­ports of all the key in­gre­di­ents.

Along with pizza, Sal’s of­fers dough balls called Gar­lic Knots, but I found these a lit­tle too lit­er­ally knotty: first, tex­tu­rally; later gas­troin­testi­nally.

How­ever, my Buf­falo Wings were per­fect. With chicken, there’s a fine line be­tween suc­cu­lence and un­der-cook­ing, which these did not cross: the bones were pink­ish red but the flesh was not. They were drenched in a tangy pink sauce and came with fresh cu­cum­ber sticks (chilled for ex­tra crunch­i­ness) plus a creamy blue cheese dip.

De­pend­ing on your point of view, Sal’s in­te­rior is ei­ther cramped or in­ti­mate. You or­der at the counter, then fight for a prime spot in a booth.

Of course, Sal’s is never go­ing to sat­isfy afi­ciona­dos of the floppy Neapoli­tan pizza, but one thing you can’t say is that a crisp base is wholly un-ital­ian. As it hap­pens, the pizza tonda of Rome is so dis­tinc­tively cracker-crisp, they even have a word for it – scroc­chiarella.

SAL’S AU­THEN­TIC NEW YORK PIZZA

109 Cuba St Ph: 384 7257 Fully li­censed Open: Sun-tue 11.30am-10pm, Wed-thur 11.30am-11pm, Sat-sun 11.30am-mid­night Price range of whole piz­zas: $25-$36 Cost: $37 for two (ex­clud­ing drinks) Food: Ser­vice: Am­bi­ence: Wine list:

Sal’s Au­then­tic New York Pizza.

This cre­ative home work space has be­come a dis­play piece in it­self.

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