"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: pizza
           Newer posts

Taster’s Cherce

It was getting late, well past lunch, and I still hadn’t eaten anything. The sun was out yesterday but it was cold. I got off the subway on 231st street and walked due west to the barber shop. On the way, I passed Sam’s Pizza, a hole-in-the-wall in Kingsbridge.

I’m not a pizza groupie but I probably eat it as a stand-by more than any other street food. Sometimes, it’s just the perfect food–enough to satiate your hunger but not enough to make you full. I walked into the place and that New York City pizza smell enveloped me (who knows, maybe you get the same smell in Philly too). I can’t explain what the smell is exactly, but I know it when I smell it–it is the scent that immediately authenticates a pizzeria in this city.

Iniside, the place was small with no-frills. The front window was big, and opened during the summer; a gumball machine rested on the counter as you walked in. A kid was standing at the counter eating a slice and a thin but strong-looking man worked behind it. The soda fountain had an “Out of Order” sign on it. There were a few tables in the back, the walls covered in fake wood. An old Coca Cola sign hung on the back wall.

I ordered a slice. Three short, round-faced, Spanish kids came in and each ordered a slice too. A fat woman and her daughter ordered a pie. The pizza man moved deliberately. He smiled and had some charming words for the women. Otherwise he was, if not sullen, blank.

The slice was good, thin at the tip and then doughy–but not too doughy–at the crust. I soaked the grease with cheese, garlic powder and hot pepper flakes. Before I finished it I ordered another one. The pizza man was making a fresh pie. He clapped his hands clean of flower, took my bill with the tips of his fingers, and gave me change. I asked him if he always worked alone. He said that he did.

“Wow, that’s a lot of work, bro.”

“I got no choice,” he said without self-pity, just resignation.

I ate the second slice. The kid next to me ate too and didn’t say anything. The three Spanish kids stood in the back, talking softly. The mother and her daughter waited in silence. It was warm. My stomach felt warm too, which was comforting because the wind cut through me when I walked out of the door.

[photo credit: dM: nyc]

Slice of Life


It is always the same, the sudden, stomach-dropping, jolt.  Walking along a city block, looking up at a familiar store front or restaurant, a Closed sign hanging in the door way, or a vacant window. Something has happened. Change has come, like it or not.

I gasped last night as I walked past Sal and Carmine’s pizza shop on Broadway between 101st and 102nd (They make a salty but delicious slice.)  The grate was up and a red rose was taped against the metal.  Above it was a small xeroxed obiturary from a New Jersey paper.

Sal died late last week. I’ve been eating their pizza since I was a kid.  Sal and Carmine.  Two short, taciturn men in their seventies, though they look older. I never knew who was Sal and who was Carmine, just that one was slightly less cranky than the other. These are the kind of men that don’t retire but are retired.

The funeral was yesterday; the shop re-opens today.


As I read the obituary, people stopped and registered the news.  They congregated for a few moments, some took pictures with their cell phones, and then slowly walked away, the neighbhorhood taking in the loss.

           Newer posts
feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver