St. Simons Island, Georgia-USA: Sal’s Neighborhood Pizza

New York Pizza in Coastal Georgia

We’re eating in U.S. restaurants again given our return from foreign travel.  And a visit to this place is a wonderful reminder of the FRESH food and family-driven, personal touch-of-the-owner style of restaurants we enjoy regularly overseas. The specials of the day are on the daily menu board as you walk in.

Stopping by with friends, we ordered two 18″ Deluxe pizzas. A stone hearth just a few feet away behind the customer service counter bakes the pizza’s projecting an enticing aroma for visitors.  Our guests were thrilled — they said it was the best pizza they’ve ever eaten.

18" Deluxe Pizza - Sal's
18″ Deluxe Pizza – Sal’s

Former professional boxer Sal (Salvatore) Cenicola from Teaneck, N.J. is the owner of this place. And he takes and active role in the operations. His goal is to present you a likeness of the southern Italian food gracing the dining room table at his home in Teaneck, N.J. during his youth. He’s hit a home run. Here’s why.

Fresh, Tasty Food

First, the ingredients are fresh. Many well-known and reputable restaurants in this area today prepare portions of their food in advance and microwave them for a quick delivery. You won’t get this at Sal’s. This is a relief. Having spent many months on end in SE Asia where foods are prepared fresh in family run restaurants, finding a place like Sal’s is welcome.  We’re absolutely sick and tired of eating microwave food at restaurants in the U.S.

Stuffed Clams on Rizzoto at Sal's Pizzeria, St. Simons Island, GA
Stuffed Clams on Rizzoto at Sal’s Pizzeria, St. Simons Island, GA

Second, entrees and desserts are authentic. You won’t find any half-hearted efforts at southern Italian cooking here. Imagine for a moment, the grit and determination it takes to get in the ring and stick it out with an opponent for 12 rounds. This is impossible for most of us to feel emotively. But if you try to put yourself in this position vicariously, you’ll begin to grasp a sense of the determination Sal brings to this operation. He loves this style of cooking and his passion for it is plain for all to see.

Cheesecake at Sal's Pizzeria, St. Simons Island, GA
Cheesecake at Sal’s Pizzeria, St. Simons Island, GA

Third, ambiance. This place is teaming with old northern Italian charm. It’s small, but cozy and comfortable. On entry you’ll see a brick kiln before you where pizzas are baked. A 12-seat crescent shaped bar surrounds this area. About 12-tables offering seating varies for 2-6 per layout. Bottles of wine are stuffed in cubbyholes all over the place. And of course, pix of Sal’s professional boxing exploits adorn the walls. But pix aren’t enough for Sal’s died-in-the-wool fans.  Sal has videos running of all of his fights from back in the day!

This place oozes of Sal’s personal touch. One of our guests made an astute comment: the elements of the pizzas were cut and sized just right. When you bite into a pizza from Sals, you won’t eat clumps of ingredients, because they are all blended so well.

See our review of this place on Trip Advisor.

Death of Sal Cenicola

Sadly, Sal passed away at the age of 62 in 2021. Fortunately, his achievement as a restauranteur carries on through the work of his successors. You can read his obituary here.

Tom @ RoverTreks