A sea change has quietly taken place at Sam's Restaurant, the 79-year-old Cobble Hill staple (it was South Brooklyn when it began business) that serves pizza some say is as good as Grimaldi's or Di Fara's, in a time capsule space complete with red leather booths and checkered tablecloths.
For nearly 60 years, the pies here have been hand made by Mario Migliaccio, who emigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 22 and Truman was President. He's put in less and less time in the last couple years, as he got older, coming in just a few hours a day. But he never retired, and never stopped making pizzas.
Last month, Mr. Migliaccio's wife passed away. The pizzeria was closed for a few days. And today, June 8, the old pizzaiolo hung up his apron for good. In classic New York Italian-American immigrant fashion, he is flying back to his home land—specifically, a house he had long been building for himself on his birthplace, a small island near Ischia, an island north of Capri, in the Gulf of Naples.
Taking his place in the running of Sam's will be his son, Louis, a familiar face to Sam's regulars. No need to worry: the place isn't going anywhere, and Louis doesn't plan to change a thing.
81-year-old Mario Magliaccio was one of Brooklyn's master pizza makers, but few knew it. He kept to himself and didn't court publicity the way some other old pizzerias did. For that, you have to admire his integrity and modesty. At Sam's, making good, simple food didn't qualify the owners for any special genuflection; it was a matter of course.
(Photo courtesy of Slice)