08 June 2009

The Torch Is Passed at Sam's Restaurant

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)


Ken Mac said...

love this joint

Anonymous said...

Odd, that at least one other
funeral parlor has an austere clock
looking at you, the Gannon Funeral Parlor on East 28th street in NYC.

The clock in the window seems to say
to me ,I am not here for time present
but to remember you of your time left here on Earth when time will not matter.

Anonymous said...

who is your source? who told you he was retiring? there are no quotes in this post.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

This is a blog, a one-man band. Unless I say otherwise, the source is me. The owners, father and son, told me themselves. You can believe it!

Ted said...

I remember one afternoon, sitting in the back with Mario, trying to figure out how many pies he had made. When he started there in the 40's he was making pizzas as fast as he could for lunch as well as dinner.

He is a really decent guy. And I hope all is well for him.

FYI: The person making the pies now has been there for a long time. So little in the actual pie will probably change. It is worth the trip. One of the top three or four pizsas in NYC. You have to get garlic on the pie. That is the key!

Publius said...

The so-called "Brooklyn Paper" is reporting that this rumor is incorrect and that Louie's pissed:


Brooks of Sheffield said...

I love Sam's and respect the family, but I stand by the story. It's correct. And if you read the Brooklyn Paper story closely, you'll notice that Louis never really denies anything. I am sorry that he's angry, though. I had intended the post as a tribute to his father.