Although I need a cup of coffee every morning, I don’t think that I’m as addicted to coffee as much as I am coffee shops. There’s nothing I’d rather do in the early morning that get cozy with a cup and my laptop in a comfy spot in America’s new favorite place to socialize with oneself. While vacationing in Florida’s Siesta Key, I thank Mrs. Pie for discovering for me The Clever Cup just across the Stickney Point Bridge over the bay into Sarasota.
With a pleasant room and a great dark roast, I found my way there every morning while I also discovered the groovy retro Gateway Avenue shopping area in which it resided. Gateway is a long extra-wide single block with local-only shops and front-in parking on both sides. It even had a record shop let alone, count them, four pizza joints!
Never one who is afraid to start some coffee shop chatter, I asked at the counter one morning who had the best pizza in the ‘hood. The two ladies working the counter never got a chance to chime in since the gentleman behind me started with chapter and verse about how Sal’s Pizzeria & Pasta House was by far the best. My simple question then set in motion a chain reaction around the room of people talking about pizza! Said dialog continued even as I walked out the door. I just love it when people get passionate about pizza.
So, my plan for lunch that day was set. Taking a break from a day of leisure on the beach, I headed back over the bridge for a late afternoon lunch slice at Sal’s. The room inside was tiny, cluttered and empty, but I managed to secure a seat at a table after requesting a single cheese slice ($2.41 tax included) from a guy who didn’t look like he was named Sal.
Well, that fellow at the coffee shop was sure right. The slice at Sal’s was killer! Sizing it up, it was a tad smaller in size and wider in thickness than the norm, but it looked dazzling. After a tasteless slice the night before, it was a delight to have all the usual pizza tastes properly in tune on this one. Checking them off, cheese, crust and tomato sauce all tasted fabulous.
The temp was perfect, the oil was in control, and the cheese stayed where it belonged. These three simple tests that slices often fail were all in order. Chewing away at the uber-tasty crust, I kept asking myself what could be wrong with this slice, and I kept coming up blank. Finally, I closed the book with the claim that it not being a little thinner was its only, but albeit minor, flaw.
Sal’s slice was delish. I made sure to let “Not-Sal” know about it on my way out the door, and he appreciated the compliment.
So. Please go visit Sal’s, but do not, I repeat do not, order the cauliflower crust they advertise. Like a famous friend of mine here in Nashville recently said, if we ever catch him ordering it, he asked that we please kill him. I totally agree. There is a time and place for eating healthier but eating a slice of pizza is not one of them.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****½ Nearer Perfection
Sal’s Pizzeria & Pasta House
6582 Gateway Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34231