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November 8, 2007 / Tony

Lunch at Sammy’s Pizza

I admit to being full of hope as I walked into Sammy’s Pizza in downtown Fargo with some co-workers.  I was in said state because my Mother had told me she had absolutely hated the pizza there on her first and only visit there.  She complained of the crust being too thin, the toppings being too sparse, and the whole thing being too crisp.  It was if she could hardly eat it.  While listening to her diatribe, however, I felt no stirrings of compassion for her perception of a poor dining experience (something I am rather keen at discerning).  Instead, my mouth began to water as I thought she described a perfectly wonderfully pizza in the style of pizza napoletana.  Upon my mother’s misgivings, I immediately promised myself that I would have Sammy’s pizza.

 

Yet, even being as hopeful as I was today, I was still a little reticent in my excitement.  For there is simply so much bad pizza in America.  How could Fargo, which is on the whole a culinary armpit, support a pizza place that could produce heavenly pizzas like those at Piece in Chicago and Punch in the Twin Cities.?  And as I saw the décor and ambience of Sammy’s, I was even a bit more worried.  It was like stepping into Al’s Diner on Happy Days.  There was dated and well-worn furnishing, vinyl seats, and early rock records decorating the walls.  As bad a culinary destination as Fargo is now, I know it was a lot worse just 10 years ago.  Could this blast from the past make pizza?

I think I knew the pizza was going to special, however, as soon as one of the co-owners, Teresa, came to our table.  She was the only one working and hence was both our server and our pizza cook.  As a server she did nothing extraordinary but as a personality, she was dynamite.  Her pride in her restaurant and her pizzas was immediately evident which manifested itself in the importance we felt in being there.  Her pride made us feel that we were somewhere and something special. 

And then the pizzas came out.  My co-worker (who is an old-friend of Teresa) called to order ahead and she insisted that we order 2 large pizzas.  I thought that would have been far too much pizza for a party of four.  I was wrong.  The pizzas were simply too delicious to stop eating.  Let’s start with the crust.  It was wafer thin and as crisp as could be without being brittle.   It magically retained just a little bit of chew.  It was amazingly good; perhaps the best I have ever had.  I inquired as to what secrets they employed to create such a wonderful creation.  It wasn’t the flour but a 450 degree brick lined oven that has been in continuous since 1952.  Here’s a picture of the oven:

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I’ve written before about pizza here and about the 800 degree ovens employed.  But after tasting this crust, I’m not so sure that’s the only way to go or even the best way.  Let me say it again: this crust is seriously good. 

The toppings were almost as stellar.  A pizza with sausage and Canadian bacon contained the tastiest sausage I’ve ever had on a pizza.  It was not only tender and lean but it had just the right amount of fennel seed in it; just enough to be evident but not enough to overpower.  The sauce was pleasantly unobtrusive and provided the perfect underlayment for the rest of the toppings.  In fact, that’s probably the best compliment you can give all of the toppings at Sammy’s: unobtrusive.  They just didn’t get in the way of enjoying that incredible crust.  There were just enough toppings to make the crust more enjoyable.  We wolfed down that pizza and a pepperoni pizza as well.  Here’s a picture of the sausage pizza:

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Sammy’s Pizza is a marvel.  It serves great, great pizza without pretension or style or even, perhaps, the awareness of its own sublimity.  It encapsulates everything I love about food-dedication, love, attention, and taste.  I truly wish there were more restaurants just like Sammy’s with their own peculiarities and oddities and wonders.  Ultimately, great food is self-expression and the pizza at Sammy’s is a perfect expression of the owners.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it.  Do yourself a favor and have a pizza there.  Please, enjoy it and prove my mother wrong. 

Sammy’s Pizza can be found at 301 North Broadway, Fargo, ND.  It is open for lunch and dinner.  A small, inexpensive wine list is available as well as tap beer. 

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3 Comments

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  1. Allison / Feb 1 2008 1:44 pm

    Sammy’s far surpasses Duane’s. Fantastic! It is a must everytime my Dad comes to town.

  2. joe / Mar 9 2008 3:47 pm

    Ok, Been a fan of Sammy’s but NOTHING surpasses Duane’s salami pizza. I’ve yet to find ANYTHING comparable to it in the cities or elsewhere. Sammy’s is great but no one can hold a candle to Duane’s salami. Tony, prove me wrong.
    jeo

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