I had only heard of Sal's Pizza and was directed to try it by one of our blog readers (thanks, Milner). According to that ever-reliable fountainhead of knowledge that is the internet, Sal's was originally opened by THE Sal - the Sal who opened the original Picnic Pizza in the Stones River area, which then moved to Antioch and became Angelo's Picnic Pizza to be run by his brother, Angelo, and now Nick, Angelo's son. You with me? Unfortunately, I cannot reliably give credit to or debunk that legend at this time (though I'll keep on it) as the Sal's we know today is under new, unrelated ownership.
While we're certainly interested in the history, we're here for the pizza. Sal's is the favorite pizza spot for many of our East side neighbors (Donelson / Hermitage was "East Nashville" before "East Nashville" was cool), and when I mentioned my mini road trip to Sal's to some family and friends living nearby, they all came to meet me.
Sal's offers both delivery and dining-in with an amazingly low-priced lunch buffet (all you "care to" eat, $6.99). And this is no phone-it-in buffet as hot, fresh pies with a variety of toppings are always rotating in and out of the bar. The buffet includes salads, pastas, meatballs, bread sticks, potato cakes and more...but I won't mention the other buffet menu items that I tried. I certainly won't mention the meatballs. But at the front of the line is the freshly sliced pepperoni pizza...
Sal's starts with a medium-thin crust that is dense with a little interior fluff and a very mild buttery taste. It is slightly thicker than some of the other thin crusts we've tried and leaning more towards the chewy side than the cracker crispy side. It's covered in a heavy, chunky tomato sauce that is clearly house-made with visible spices and bits of tomato. The sauce is warm and tasty with a somewhat sweet introduction and a delicate amount of heat that lingers and builds with each bite. The pepperoni has a bit of the spice as well, topping the pie in thin-cut and very juicy slices.
The build up is good, but the cheese is our winner today. It is an absolutely delicious milky mozzarella that is thick and globby with a high pull away. As I tried different slices from different pies (even with other topping combinations) it was always tasty and surprisingly good in the various quantities and pairings. The cheese alone is worth the drive.
the dining experience:
There is ample seating room in the dining area where you can gaze around the room and be certain that you are NOT in Italy with the gold-framed photos of famous Italian (pronounced eye-tal-yun) landmarks, actors and mob movies. There is a noted "grapevine" theme carried from the wallpaper boarder to the coated tablecloths.
Now here's the part that I don't like. Please note that this is ONE person's experience on ONE afternoon, but I might have been slightly turned off by the lack of cleanliness in the dining room. And I'm not just talking about previous patrons who didn't put away their trays. I'd start with some mid-shift basic mopping and table wiping. Perhaps it was just one busy afternoon, but I've got to give you my honest opinion.
Overall though, the pizza was hot, fresh and tasty, the meal is very competitively priced and the service is not overly friendly but also not shouting at each other. I definitely recommend a visit.
Sal's Pizza and Restaurant
710 Stewarts Ferry Pike. Hermitage, Tennessee (map)
Open Daily 10am - 10pm, Lunch Buffet 11am - 2pm, Delivery until Midnight
Dine In, Carry Out, Delivery and Catering
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Friday Night Slice, Part 1: MAFIAoZA's and Joey's House of Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 2: Pizza Perfect and Pizza Perfect Kebobs
Friday Night Slice, Part 3: Rudino's Pizza and Grinders
Friday Night Slice, Part 4: Chicago Style Italian Beef
Friday Night Slice, Part 5: Pie In The Sky
Friday Night Slice, Part 6: Castrillo's Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 7: California Pizza Kitchen
Friday Night Slice, Part 8: Ahart's Pizza Garden (Murfreesboro)
Friday Night Slice, Part 9: New York Pizza Depot (Clarksville)
Friday Night Slice, Part 10: Matteo's Pizzeria
Friday Night Slice, Part 11: Angelo's Picnic Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 12: Manny's House of Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 13: Nashville Pizza Co.
Friday Night Slice, Part 14: Brick's Cafe
Got any suggestions for places that I should cover? Let me know!