By Nancy Tannler
3701 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Sun-Thurs 11 am-11 pm
Fri & Sat 11 am-12 am
Straight From New York Pizza is just that, a New York style of pizza Mike Rice and Ian Jacobson first started making back in 1986 in their first pizzeria in downtown Salem.
Mike purchased a little hole-in-the-wall place from his father-in-law where he and his buddy Ian decided to try something different from other pizza parlors of the day.
They modeled the restaurant after a New York style pizzeria, selling pizza mostly by the slice.
The secret is in a crust cooked on a stone slab in a gas-fired oven where the dough is in contact with the stone. That’s what makes a crispy thin crust. Pizzas are prepared with moderate amounts of sauce and toppings, and usually served by the slice.
The idea is to be able to fold the pizza over and eat it while standing or on the go, and there’s no waiting. The idea was a success and, a decade later, there were three Straight From New York’s in Salem.
In the meantime, Tommy Price Long moved to Portland from the east coast where he worked as pizzaiolo. He loved the work and was happy to find employment at the former Oasis Cafe at SE 37th & Hawthorne Blvd.
In 2011, Mike and Ian wanted to bring Straight From New York pizza to Belmont St. and hired Long to help organize and manage this new location. They were a hit here too! Since then, SFNY has added two more restaurants, the most recent in the former Oasis Cafe location on Hawthorne Blvd.
“Pizza is a great food to serve. Everyone loves it and hand-tossing is fun to watch and one of the reasons we have such a great crust,” Long said.
“We cook several pizzas at a time throughout the day, so they are always fresh and buying slices keeps the price reasonable,” he added. Most of the business is in slices but SFNY sells full pies, calzones, salads, buffalo wings, bread sticks, beer and wine. They also deliver.
“We’ve continued with the basic style of pizza, but over the years recipes have changed and evolved,” Long said. There are the endless combinations and toppings available. Plus, the restaurant now offers gluten free and vegan pizza. “The Follow Your Heart brand of vegetable/nut based cheese tastes really good,” he adds. Buying local ingredients helps keep the money in the community too.
On tap they serve a rotating selection of beers on tap, 99% is from local breweries, so there are always new tastes to try. The one exception is Migration Brewing’s Patio Pale Ale.
This relationship goes back to when they opened their 28th and Glisan brewery about the same time SFNY opened the Belmont shop. Pabst and Rainer are also regulars and they offer a special which is a cheese pizza slice and a Tall Boy or 10 oz. Draft for $4 (all day every day) – that’s hard to pass up. They sell growlers to go to accompany your take out order and there is a selection of wine, soda and bottled drinks available too.
(Editors’ note: At my grandson’s ninth birthday celebration he had his favorite SFNY cheese, pepperoni and veggie pizza! They were a real crowd pleaser.)
SFNY employs about forty people. This one has kept the cook, Jayne and General Manager Adam from the previous owner. “These two are good to work with and have made the transition smooth,” Tommy said.
Having Straight From New York Pizza occupy this corner of Hawthorne keeps a long-standing tradition going here. It’s always been great to pop in and grab a slice when on the boulevard and now this will continue into the future. With so many venues changing and disappearing, it is obvious that people will continue to support pizza. Order online or check out a complete menu at sfnypizza.com.