Restaurant Review - Any way you slice it

Sorrentino's New York-style pizza is a dream come true

Roll it, fold it, peel it or stuff it, everyone likes a good slice of pizza. But start asking around and you'll find that most Northern transplants to the area don't think they're getting it around here.

They're not looking for the mass- produced variety or even our thicker, soggier versions. They want real pie. If you're looking for a great New York-style pizza with the right sauce, right crust and right toppings, look no further than Sorrentino's.

Located in the Cobb Place shopping center off Barrett Parkway, your first task is finding it. Surrounded by department stores and restaurant chains, it's tough to track down. But once you step inside, you'll sample a bit of New York hidden in a strip mall.

Restaurant owner Diane Sorrentino Shalhoup (the owner of the restaurant is related to a member of our editorial staff) opened the place after working 9-to-5 most of her life and dreaming of having her own pizzeria. She went to New York to learn how to make her signature dough before opening the restaurant that displays her family name.

Now it's become her home away from home. Shalhoup knows most of the diners by name or reputation. Regulars frequent the place and newbies are quickly noticed. But don't worry, you'll be greeted, brought into the fold and made to feel like one of the family soon enough. Pictures of her relations line the walls. Sepia-toned prints of grandfathers, uncles, sons and daughters beam down over the alcove booths. The spot is warm and inviting.

But the food is what really warms you up. Gobbling up Neapolitan- or Sicilian-style slices at lunch, it's hard not to smile. The thin-crusted Neapolitan is topped with a fresh tomato sauce, oregano, garlic, a few other spices and whole milk mozzarella ($2.25 a slice). Add standard toppings like olives and pepperoni or opt for the more exotic prosciutto, zucchini, breaded eggplant or baby clams. A large slice with feta and bacon pieces did me just fine. The dough is thin and firm, and it's hard to tell which is the best part — biting into the warm dough with toppings or finishing with the crisp crust at the end.

Hearty salads include a garden and Caesar ($2.50), made fresh and tossed with homemade dressings. A Greek salad ($3.50) includes mixed greens, feta, calamata olives, peperoncini and red onion tossed in the special Sorrentino dressing.

In addition to the pizza, the calzone and stromboli are not to be missed. The stromboli (similar to a calzone in that it's cheese and meat wrapped in pizza dough) standard ($5.75) is packed with smoked ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone and romano cheese. The calzone ($5.75) contains gobs of ricotta, mozzarella and romano melted with your choice of toppings each for 75 cents extra.

A list of pastas includes manicotti, ravioli and lasagna as well as pasta fagioli (a traditional Italian soup with white beans).

For whole pies, there are specialty pizzas along with the make-your-own variety. The lasagna pizza is a thin crust with homemade meatballs and ricotta cheese. But if you're really hungry go for the stuffed pizza rustica: pepperoni, meatball, ham, sausage, ricotta, tomato sauce and mozzarella topped with a crust (large, $18.75).

But if you're thinking that Sorrentino's is only good for a slice or two, take a look at their New Year's Eve menu. For a fixed price of $40, you get a five-course meal with a live band. Choose from a laundry list of mouth-watering Italian specialties: Portabella stuffed with crab meat, spinach and fontina cheese; lobster ravioli with hazelnut sage brown butter sauce; and sea scallops crusted in pignoli with lemon pesto beurre blanc. Then, top it all off with a cannoli (an Italian pastry filled with whipped ricotta cheese) or a slice of tiramisu.

It's enough to bring back memories of the Old Country, even if your roots are in Marietta.??