Sal is first shown in the film when he and his sons arrive in the neighbourhood by car to open the pizzeria. He comments on how hot it is and tells Pino to get a broom to sweep out front. When Pino says how he "detests this place like a sickness" Sal gets offended by this.
When Da Mayor visits the pizzeria, Sal gives him money to sweep out front.
When Buggin' Out visits the pizzeria and starts trouble, Sal threatens him with a baseball bat. Sal kicks Buggin' Out from the pizzeria, to which Buggin' Out tells people throughout the day to boycott the pizzeria. Also throughout the film, Mookie asks Sal if it's the right address when delivering pizzas. Mookie also asks him for his wages before closing time.
When Radio Raheem enters the pizzeria with his boom box blasting, Sal shouts at Radio Raheem to turn his boom box off. He says how he is disturbing him and his customers. Radio Raheem eventually does turn it off and Sal says that when he comes in the pizzeria, there should be no music.
When Sal and Pino have a one-to-one talk, Pino says how he is "sick of niggers" and to open a pizzeria at their home Italian neighbourhod. Sal refuses, saying that there are too many pizzerias in their neighborhood, and explains how he's happy that these people grew up on his food and how the pizzeria is here to stay. This angers Pino, who gets in a fight with Smiley, repeatedly telling him to leave while Sal offers him some money.
When Mookie takes a break without permission, Sal tells Mookie how he's pushing it and threatens to fire him. When Jade enters the pizzeria, he is happy to see her and makes something special for her. Mookie and Pino get annoyed about how he's treating her and Mookie takes Jade away from him. Mookie then tells Sal to leave her alone. When Officer Gary Long and Officer Mark Ponte visit the pizzeria, they ask Sal how much longer he's planning to stay in the neighbourhood.
When it's closing time, Sal says how it was a really great day. He says how he should rename the place to "Sal and Son's Pizzeria" and how Mookie will always have a place in the pizzeria. Ella, Ahmad, Cee and Punchy asks for some pizza in the closed pizzeria and Sal lets them in for a final service. But when Buggin' Out, Radio Raheem and Smiley march into the pizzeria with the boom box blasting, an argument pursues. Sal ends up using the racial epiphet "nigger" and smashes Radio Raheem's boom box with his baseball bat. Sal says how he has just killed his radio, and Radio Raheem starts fighting Sal and pulls him from the counter. Most of the people in the pizzeria joins in on the fight and end up outside the pizzeria. Raheem almost strangles Sal to death until the police arrive. Officer Gary Long chokes Radio Raheem to death and the other officers arrest Buggin' Out and leave the neighbourhood. The people start to mourn over the death of Radio Raheem and show the anger to Sal. Sal says: "You do what you gotta do" which makes everyone argue with Sal. Da Mayor tries to tell the people to go home before someone gets hurt. Mookie goes to get a trash can from somebody's house and throws it at the pizzeria window, breaking it and ensuing a riot. The people rush into the pizzeria and destroy everything before Smiley lights a match and burns the pizzeria down. Da Mayor takes him and his sons to a safe place, while Sal yells: "That's my place! That's my fucking place!" and watch while his pizzeria gets burned down. The police come and try to calm the people down and fire fighters come to put the fire out.
The next day, he is seen sitting down on the porch of his destroyed pizzeria and Mookie asks for his money. Sal tells Mookie how he doesn't work here anymore and how it's Buggin' Out's fault that Radio Raheem's dead. Sal says how he built his pizzeria with his own hands despite having insurance. Sal gives him $500 and sarcastically shouts how Mookie is a rich man. Sal aks Mookie if he's sick and tells him how it's going to even hotter than the day before.
- Spike Lee campaigned for Robert De Niro as Sal the pizzeria owner, but De Niro had to decline due to prior commitments. So the role eventually went to Danny Aiello.
- Danny Aiello was reluctant to use the word "nigger" as he never used that word before.