There’s a whole underbelly of pizza experts in New York. I can pretend to be an aficionado, but when it comes down to it, I’m just a pizza snob who happens to have his own blog. And web series. Don’t forget the videos, people!
So when Jason Feirman of I Dream of Pizza picked Sac’s Place in Astoria for the latest Pizza Club adventure, I didn’t question it. I had maybe heard of this place and definitely walked by once or twice. But I was surprised it was considered a possible pizza destination.
I live in Astoria so it was exciting to hear that Pizza Club this month would be on my turf. Outside of Rizzo’s and Rose & Joe’s, I haven’t explored too much of the pizza scene out here. Astoria (or Queens for that matter) doesn’t have quite the reputation for great pizza as Brooklyn or Manhattan.
We arrived at Sac’s, which is one of those places that’s both a pizzeria and an Italian restaurant, with very little expectations. I didn’t know the pizzeria existed until I headed to the restroom and the ambience drastically changed from casual, low-lit rustic dining to flourescent lit loud take out spot. I anticipated the bathroom would have been in the nicer area since it’s a little tacky to have the diners walk through the pizzeria. Especially if you’re trying to set a mood.
I was delighted to see that besides wine, Sac’s also offers about six craft beer options (including local ones like Brooklyn and Sixpoint). I was less delighted when I saw the beers were priced at $8. That’s how much my previous employer (The Modern) charged. And they’re an upscale restaurant in midtown Manhattan – not a pizzeria pretending to be a romantic destination in the middle of Queens!
As is the tradition with Jason and the Pizza Clubs, we ordered one of every pizza option. Considering there were only five possibilities here, that wasn’t too difficult. We got a Cheese Pie, a Marinara, a White Pie, a Sicilian, and the Mother’s Special. More on those in a minute.
The pies came out and they were monstrous. We ordered medium pies of each since there were 10 of us, but it was way too much food. One pie didn’t even get touched and some lucky Pizza Club members went home with leftovers.
We also all ended up as possible movie stars. Jason had invited a Dutch filmmaker named Finbarr Wilbrink who was working on a documentary about pizza. He had interesting questions to ask all of us and he joined in the social pizza community. My only concern was that with all the great NY pizza options out there, this was the one he was trying.
Saying there are better NY pizza options out there is an understatement. It’s a good thing the Dutch filmgoers won’t be able to taste the pizza because I could only imagine how their impression of NY pizza would change.
Sac’s was just subpar, I’m afraid. I found the Sicilian to be thick and yet soggy. The Mother’s Special, which is basically just a margherita (is the name an uninformed nod to grandma-style?) and didn’t have much flavor. The bite of basil was the only hope for any sort of tastebud pleasure. The crust all around was not dry, which was nice, but that’s about all I can say for it. The tomato sauce was rather bland and the cheese was pretty forgettable.
I wouldn’t complain about this stuff if it was cheap and I was getting it on my street corner (which this almost is), but Sac’s presents itself as a serious Italian restaurant. And maybe their pastas fare better, but the pizza is completely forgettable. Even Finbarr the filmmaker noted that the pizza had no taste. Believe me (and the NY pizza experts), this is not great NY pizza.
Is Sac’s Place the best pizza in NY? Most people from Pizza Club rated this just a 3, but I found it at least edible if overly bland and boring. I give it a 4 out of 10.
|25-41 Broadway (between 29th Street and Crescent Street)