Crispy NJ pizza comes to east Charlotte

Second-generation Italian immigrant Fabio Durazzo puts a New Jersey spin on the pizzas at his Sal’s Pizza factory on Monroe Road.
by Tom Hanchett
 
Monmouth County, New Jersey, lies just across the bay from New York’s Staten Island. It’s famous for Asbury Park, Bruce Springsteen’s old stomping grounds,
 
Monmouth may be close to New York City in geography, but it’s got its own style of pizza.  
Look for a thin crust with a cracker-like crunch. Yes, the thinness calls to mind Manhattan-style pizza. But slices in the City are foldable. Can’t do that with the crisp crust of north Jersey.
 
Monmouth County arrived on Monroe Road in east Charlotte this past summer when Fabio Durazzo opened Sal’s Pizza factory.
 
“My dad came from Napoli, Italy, in 1970,” Durazzo says. “He saved every single penny until he was able to buy his own place.” Eventually the father owned fourteen pizzerias, most under the name Dusals. “My dad and my uncle were both named Salvatore,” Durazzo explains. “Two Sals, in Italian that’s Dusals.”
 
“My dad taught me to make the thin crust. Sauce and cheese gotta go all the way to the edge.” No thick crusty edges for customers to discard.
 
Durazzo sells whole pies or slices, available with a dizzying array of toppings. I especially like one that features old-style ricotta cheese plus crumbled-up, hand-made meatballs.
 
Another Jersey tradition: arancini. Balls of rice are wrapped around a mozzarella core then deep-fried. You fork off bites and dip them in tomato sauce. An internet search suggests that Monmouth County folks love Italian rice balls so much that even Irish pubs serve them.
 
When a sister moved south to Charlotte, Durazzo and his father sold their New Jersey holdings and re-united the family in the Queen City. Soon Fabio Durazzo was back in the pizza business. “My dad, he never had a place called Sal’s. When I showed him the Sal’s Pizza Factory sign, he started crying a little bit.”
 
Sal’s Pizza Factory
Tuesday – Thursday  10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday  10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday  11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Closed Monday
 
3723 Monroe Road
Charlotte, NC  28205
(980) 219 – 7108

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