Portnoy Loves Iconic Pizza Spot in Albany, ‘It’s About the People!’
A Favorite in Albany for Decades
Back in the early to mid-90s, a group of goofy friends in their late teens and early 20s would hop in a buddy's car and head down to Sovrana's Pizza on North Lake Ave in Albany for a slice of their iconic pizza.
Most times, this crew wouldn't arrive there until after midnite - but it didn't matter. Sovrana's was always open, and after a few drinks when the munchies kicked in, there was no better place to be.
Check out Dave Portnoy's review of Sovrana's below
Lines Out the Door
Late at night, especially on weekends, there'd be a line out the door, but no one complained - the pizza was too good and it was worth the wait.
Sovrana's Pizza, which opened up in the mid-80s, is located in the heart of U Albany student housing, and no other pizza place hit the spot after a night out - and a few cold ones - than this mom-and-pop pizza place, sub shop, and Italian import store.
That goofy pack of friends back then was me and my buddies, and to this day, we still talk about rowdy evenings at the bar that always ended with a trip to Sovrana's where "Mama Sovrana" herself would serve us up a slice of their legendary pizza.
Ask for "Cold Cheese"
I'm not sure if they still do it now, but back in the day, it was customary to get a slice of their thick, Sicilian-style pizza, topped with a handful or two of freshly sliced mozzarella cheese, and it was pure bliss.
"Founded by Demetrio and Lina Greco, Sovrana Pizza first opened its doors in 1985 and became an instant favorite of a generation of pizza-loving Albany college students who have fond memories of "gooey slices of divine bliss" and the pizza reputation continues to this day." -Sovrana's Pizza
Dave Portnoy pays a visit to Sovrana's
About a week or so ago, we reached out to Sovrana's after seeing a photo with Portnoy on their Facebook page, and a family member, and longtime worker named Cristian confirmed the visit last week and said that Portnoy got along great with him and his family.
On Wednesday, Portnoy finally put up his review of Sovrana's and it was awesome. I got chills watching him learn about and ask questions about a place that so many people, including myself, have such a strong nostalgic connection to.
While Portnoy waited for his pie, he chatted it up with members of the family and tried one of their famous, homemade chocolate chip cookies, which he scored a solid 7.9.
But what about the pizza?
According to Cristian, "Portnoy seemed to love it," he told us last week. "I was still in shock that he even came in, I forgot to even ask (about the score), but I think it’s best to wait for his review to come out so it’s more interesting", he said.
I've watched enough of his pizza reviews to know that Sovrana's might not be the best "style" for Portnoy - theirs is thick and doughy and quite heavy, whereas Portnoy seems to favor thin, crispy, lighter, wood-fried pie.
But this review wasn't really about food. In the video, it's easy to see his genuine affection for mom-and-pop's, and during the pandemic, he literally saved small businesses on the verge of sinking, including some right here in the Capital Region.
Portnoy scores the pizza a 7.2
"It's about the people, NOT the pizza," Portnoy bellied as he took a few bites and contemplated his score, which ultimately was a 7.2, not great, but not bad.
"Do not care, Do not CARE" he shouted, referring to the relatively modest score. "It's the mother, it's the father, it's the son, they've been here 40 years," he continued.
"I love the family!"
Albany does too!