Mar/Apr 2009 Issue
Perfect Pizza

Any way you slice it, Sal and Mookie’s pizzeria in Jackson delivers.
Story and photos by Don Redman

Pizza mavens in Jackson, Miss., are no doubt thrilled by the addition of Sal and Mookie’s pizzeria featuring authentic New York-style pizza and a whole lot more.

Hibachi

Chef and co-owner Dan Blumenthal (above) serves pizza by the slice (below) plus pasta dishes, sandwiches, ice cream and desserts at Sal and Mookie’s in Jackson.

Vintage table
Sal and Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint opened its doors less than two years ago in the historic Fondren District and under the direction of service manager Tanya Burns and chef Jon Pixler, the family-friendly restaurant looks to be on the verge of hitting it big.

The restaurant’s layout and overall ambiance screams franchise potential–and that’s exactly what co-owner and chef Dan Blumenthal hopes the future holds. And that’s not a bad thing. The cheery atmosphere, bright colors and open floor plan combine to create a casual, warm neighborhood restaurant. In fact, on the day I arrived, co-owner Jeff Good was on his way out the door to deliver pizzas.

Blumenthal and Good are hardly strangers to success and have a solid reputation for quality dishes, whether at the upscale Bravo! restaurant (AAA three Diamond) or at their Broad Street Bakery (AAA one Diamond) café, both in Jackson. That same attention to detail and quality ingredients are on full display at Sal and Mookie’s. For example, the pizza dough is made from scratch daily and delivered fresh each morning from their Broad Street Bakery. And when the season allows, they grow their own herbs in a garden on site.

The pizzas are baked in one of four custom-built brick pizza ovens from New Jersey, which the owners claim produce “a crust and texture that no other pizzeria is able to match.”

Pizza is sold by the slice during lunch and includes a choice of salad or soup, which will set you back about six bucks. Additional slices are $2.50 each, but we’re talking big slices. Diners can request a red sauce or white sauce pizza. A vegetarian pizza is also offered.

I had a sampling of several offerings, including a white pizza with pepperoni, which simply melted in my mouth. They brag about the freshness of their dough, but until you try a slice of their pizza, you just can’t imagine what you are missing.

I sampled from their appetizer list and was particularly impressed with the hot wings with gorgonzola dipping sauce. The cheese-filled fried ravioli was also quite good.

I also had that day’s special, which was beef and mushroom in a port wine reduction sauce over pasta tortelacci. It was fantastic. Pixler cut his teeth for nearly a decade at Bravo! and he brought his love affair with bold and creative dishes to Sal and Mookie’s. Another classic you may want to try is the Ziti al la Vodka.

Pasta plates average $13 and whole pizzas, which are only available for dinner, start at $12.50 for a “build-your-own” 14-inch pie. You can also order a stripped-down 18-inch pizza for $15 or a no-frills stromboli (rolled pizza) for $8.24.

Original specialty pizzas bear names mostly associated with New York, like the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Andy Warhol, and Riker’s Island. There’s also a tribute to New Orleans–the NOLA Central Grocery–famed for creating the muffuletta.

Hamburgers (beef and turkey) are also on the menu, as are sub sandwiches, which average about $10. The children’s menu is very reasonable–about $5, excluding a beverage–and features a variety of items including chicken strips, pizza, hamburgers and peanut butter and jelly.

Completing the fare is a wide and varied selection of desserts: New York cheesecake, Italian cream cake, chocolate tiramisu, biscotti, ice cream sold by the scoop, sundaes, banana splits, floats, shakes and malts.

There is also a variety of specialty coffees and teas, as well as adult beverages ranging from coffee with liqueurs to martinis to beer.

The name of the restaurant, according to Burns, comes from the 1989 Spike Lee movie “Do The Right Thing.” Burns said Blumenthal was watching the movie late one night and he immediately fell in love with the names.

Sal and Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint is located at 565 Taylor St. The restaurant is open Tuesday–Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is a non-smoking environment. For more information, call (601) 368-1919 or find the restaurant online at www.salandmookies.com.

Don Redman is associate editor of AAA Southern Traveler magazine.










What’s Cooking at Sal and Mookie’s

Pizza (14-inch/six slices)
Upper West Side $25.95
(artichokes, spinach, Fontina, shrimp and more)
Hell’s Kitchen $18.50
(tomatoes, anchovies, capers, chili flakes and more)
Andy Warhol $19.95
(ricotta, wild mushroom ragout, pancetta and more)
Riker’s Island $23.95
(Pepperoni, spicy sausage, veggies and more)
NOLA Central Grocery $18.95
(Olive salad, ham, salami, cheese and more)

Hamburgers
Satriale’s $9.95
(ground chuck and Italian sausage)
Turkey Lurkey $7.95
(Half pound ground burger with trimmings)
Lou Reed $8.25
(Grilled portabella mushrooms with horseradish sauce, sprouts, tomato and onion)

Desserts & Ice Cream
New York cheesecake $5.75
Chocolate tiramisu $6.25
Italian cream cake $5.25
Banana split $5.95
Abita draft root beer float $4.75
Classic malts $4.99

 


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