Best East Coast Style Pizza in Sacramento
“Why did you only order a medium? What about left overs?” I thought to myself as I inhaled the mouth-watering visual in front of me. If you’ve never had an east coast style slice of pizza, then you have no idea what you’re missing. Like most Northern Californians, I can appreciate a variety of toppings on my pizza. Crispy pepperoni, spicy salami, sliced jalapenos, white button mushrooms, roasted garlic, sweet peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, black olives and fresh spinach are my norms when I’m at Pieology. (Yes, I want the entire salad bar on top of my pizza.) If I’m in Downtown Sacramento I’ll get fancy and order a Cal Italia from Pizza Rock which comes with asiago, gorgonzola, sweet fig preserve, prosciutto di parma, parmigiano-reggiano and a balsamic reduction. But over the years when it comes to savoring an east coast style pizza I have learned to appreciate simplicity. Give me a large slice with quality cheese, robust sauce, a sturdy crust and I’m a happy lady.
One of the best kept secrets in Rocklin, California is Celestino’s NY Pizza & Pasta. I don’t consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur but I do eat pizza at least once a week. I’m ashamed to admit but usually it’s budget pizza either from the freezer section or Domino’s. Growing up my favorite pizza place was Round Table Pizza. Our options in Roseville were limited at the time. Every once in a while I’ll gather with a few friends and venture out to a proper pizza joint to do it right. On a beautiful spring day in March we did just that and headed east towards the rolling hills of Rocklin.
Bypassing the impacted Costco parking lot and cruising past a church on the hill sits Celestino’s in an unsuspecting suburban strip mall. If I hadn’t been referred to this spot, I may have had doubts about their reputation. Upon entry there was nothing to play upon my senses. No aromas seeping out of the kitchen and their pizza display case was closer towards the cashier. When we reached the counter to place the order my eyes popped out of my head like they do in cartoons. To my left, at eye level, were large slices of heaven. Pesto and cheese, straight up pepperoni, combos; you name it, they had it! When the menu was brought to my attention, I wanted to order one of everything. I would like to have tried the fried ravioli, a couple of the specialty pizzas, an eggplant parmesan sandwich, calzone and a pasta dish. Fortunately, my dining partners reined me in and kept me focused. Our end result was one order of garlic knots, two sides of marinara sauce, and a medium pizza.
It’s hard to find a proper slice of pizza to satisfy someone whose roots are from the greater New York area. How big is the slice? How thick is the slice? Is it foldable? Most importantly, how much did it cost? A majority of Sacramento area pizza-by-the-slice places that I’ve been to charge an abhorrent amount for something that would equate to the size of a large pizza back in the “homeland”.
The first item to come out were our garlic knots. Garlic knots are uncommon to our area and I’ve only had them one other time in Silicon Valley of all places. The 12 bite-sized knots from Celestino’s were covered in butter, minced garlic and have a chewy texture. If you plan to share this appetizer, I recommend ordering two servings of garlic knots because only one order will be gone in a flash.
Up next was the main event! We ordered a medium pizza with melted mozzarella cheese and heaping clumps of ricotta half of which contained a hearty marinara sauce and tender, grilled chicken breast laying on top of a sturdy crust. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a healthy appetite and am accustomed to eating my fair share of food. Upon delivery of the hot, cheesy goodness that was gently placed at our table I thought to myself this wasn’t going to be enough. I was completely wrong. Looks were deceiving. This is the pizza that made me humble. The slices were bigger than what I saw in the display case at the counter where we placed our order. The cheese was plentiful and they didn’t skimp on the chicken which was perfect for my little one. If it weren’t for the fact that I had to help my son make sure the food was getting into his mouth and not all over himself, I probably would have inhaled more than two slices of pizza. It was better that I was forced to slow down. After eating halfway through my second slice I looked at my dining partner with a half pleased and half miserable feeling. I was stuffed. Dessert was not in our cards. I even fell asleep on the way home and that’s abnormal for me!
My thoughts are if you’re willing to opt out of a thin-crust, leafy green, fancy-schmancy pizza give Celestino’s in Rocklin a try. Your arteries may not be pleased with you afterwards but it’s a small sacrifice for a wee bit of indulgence. Everything in moderation 😉
What is your favorite pizza spot? Let me know in the comments below.