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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sam & Louie's New York Pizzeria

I hadn't intended to have my review follow so closely on the heels of Korbelik's biographical feature on the restaurant's owners but I was out of town the week after it opened and didn't get there until now. Le Korb's feature did spur me to head down to Sam & Louie's at 1501 Pine Lake Road (that strip mall with the Zesto, Subway and Juice Stop) on Friday during my lunch hour.

The first thing that struck me is how dark the place is. Pulling up outside I was wondering if it was closed. There were no lights in the windows and even upon walking in I got the impression I was interrupting a work in progress. The place is cavernous, broken up by a fake brick wall that bisects the restaurant, and the dim bulbs hanging from the ceiling don't do much to cut through the vast space.

The menu is huge for a pizza place. In addition to the pies you can get ten different salads, stromboli, calzones, pasta, sandwiches, burgers and a number of appetizers. Since this is supposed to be a New York pizzeria I ignored all the menu filler and ordered two 1-topping slices and a drink, one of the lunch specials ($5.99). How a pizza should be judged starts with the crust so I got one slice with only cheese and one with Italian sausage.

The slices came out in about 10 minutes which meant they baked each slice separately which usually means they won't be as floppy as they should be. I suppose if they limited their menu a bit they could have ready-made pies of all the popular toppings but people in South Lincoln like their variety as long as it comes from a fast casual restaurant. With that in mind, I was impressed that the slices didn't have that all-around, half-burnt crispiness that Yia-Yia's slices usually do.

The slices, as Le Korb mentioned, weren't really foldable although I don't think that had quite as much to do with the size as with the fact that the outer crust was too thick and almost brick-like. The slices were pretty big and the crust beneath gave little support, which is a good thing. Despite the floppiness of the crust there was a nice crunch to each bite which is what a good thin-crust pizza should strive to achieve. It's almost a paradox , really, but it's the greatest achievement in pizza making. A thin, floppy crust that is still crispy.

I don't know how well that thin crust would hold up to some of the multi-topping specialty pizzas they sell but none of them boast a huge amount of toppings. The Thai Pie has a spicy peanut sauce base with red peppers, broccoli and chicken or steak. The BBQ Chicken has BBQ sauce, bacon (it's a little pet-peeve of mine when a menu says "smoked bacon" since by definition bacon is almost always smoked. If not, it would be pancetta), cheddar, chicken, bell peppers and mozzarella. There are many pizzas like this which takes away from my impression of the restaurant as a New York pizzeria. I'll have to try a few to be sure but it seems like there is too much to do everything well, especially when you consider the burgers and sandwiches on the menu as well.

I scoped out the beer selection just to see if they offered more than Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Busch Light, and they did although I recoiled a little bit when I saw they had "Git-R-Done Light Lager" on tap alongside the standard light beer, the ubiquitous Boulevard Wheat and an Empyrean offering. The retired couple in line ahead of me ordered margaritas with their 11:30 lunch.

In the end the pizza was definitely worth eating since there aren't really any other places like it in Lincoln. However, I'm not sure it'll be a place I go for lunch very often as I don't consider spending $6 for two slices of pizza to be worth my money except on very rare occasions. There are about a dozen Sam & Louie's locations in Omaha and I'd never even heard of it until I saw the storefront on Pine Lake in November. When I eat pizza in Omaha it tends to be Zio's. Speaking of, I heard a rumor at least a year ago that Zio's was looking to expand into Lincoln. Was that just my imagination?


Blogger imissmolly said...

what the hell is git-r-done lager? did LTCG invent a beer?

12:24 PM  
Blogger David said...

Zio's expansion has been rumored for about 20 years now. I wish they would (maybe in that lovely downtown space vacated by Taco Del Mar and the Pita Pit) but I suspect it is not to be.

Sam and Louie's will do. The sliced meatballs are a delightful topping. Try a pepperoni and sliced meatball pie some time.

What I would really like is a good, Chicago-style deep dish. I don't know of one in Nebraska, even Omaha. And no, Old Chicago doesn't count.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Beerorkid said...

get-r-done is a light beer brewed by a winery / brewery around these parts.

Nice to see this blog back up.

My wife only likes Val's so I will have to check this place out some warm day after a jaunt on the near by trails. Thanks for the review.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Yes, git-r-done light lager is brewed by a winery/brewery near Pawnee City where Larry went to high school just down Highway 4 from where I grew up.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous foxspit said...

I'm not a fan of Sam & Louie's. The prices are too high (pasta dishes at $12), which limits me to ordering pizza by the slice if I go. For the price (cheese is $1.99 a slice), if I'm going to order pizza by the slice I'll go to the food court and save some money.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam & Louie's is awesome! Some of the prices maybe a little high, but I don't mind spending a little extra for a good meal.  I prefer La Casa Pizzeria in Omaha, but since that is not here then this is the next best thing!  Yes, I know Vals s here but the quality of the pizza has gone down hill.  it seems like they are more concerned about the Grand Buffet.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Sally in NE said...

Actually, if you go before 3pm Mon-Friday they have lunch specials now that are a REALLY good deal. And the pizza is excellent. I'm glad that I work near 14th and Pine Lake, altho it may not be good for my waistline, the specials make it budget friendly.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went there recently for lunch and they had excellent lunch specials at really good prices. I had two one-topping slices for less than $4.00. I think it was $3.73 including tax.

I like the thin crust and sweet sauce.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$12 for pasta in downtown Lincoln? Good luck with that. Sam and Louie are entering a marketplace that has chewed and spit countless people hoping to make a fortune. The downtown Lincoln lunch crowd expects tons of food for no money at all (See Bisonwiches). For $12 I can go to Misty's. Sayonara, Sammy.

11:33 AM  

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