Lombardi’s Pizza in New York City’s Little Italy

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Luckily after finishing up our banh mi from Banh Mi Saigon, we didn’t have too far to go as our next destination was only a few blocks away past the fruit vendors and gucci prada bags of Chinatown and into Little Italy for Lombardi’s, the “first” official pizzeria to open in America.

Lombardi’s Pizza in New York City is widely known and recognized for popularizing pizza the way we know it today. Recently, the New York Magazine did a time line special of the pizza through time in 104 years of Pizza in New York in their Cheap Eats of 2009 issue.

1890s: With the influx of Neapolitan immigrants comes pizza sold on the streets. Unlike those from the old country, these are super-size specimens baked in coal-fired (not wood-fired) ovens

1905: Gennaro Lombardi’s grocery store at 53 1/2 Spring St. becomes first licensed pizzeria in America. Eventually recruits pizzaioli Anthony “Totonno” Pero, John Sasso, and Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri. Cost of pie: a nickel.

Though the current Lombardi’s is down the street from the original, there is still a continuum of sorts dating back to the original Lombardi’s. Over a hundred years of pizza history? I’ve got to check it out.

As we walked up on Mott Street approaching Spring Street, I noticed on the corner a huge mural of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa greeting us with a pizza pie and smiling, letting us know that we are “here at Lombardi’s”.

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The reason why Mona Lisa smiles? Lombardi’s Pizza in her hands duh
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There is a plaque: it must be true ?

There was a line of people waiting for the dining room area, but that was okay since we were on a mission and had to keep moving. We told the hostess that we wanted to get take out and she told us to head towards the back and make a right and then a left to order, right where the pizza oven was! What a surprise that our adventure led us into the Lombardi’s coal oven room, where pizza makers were hard at work putting their classic pizza creations together.

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The Dining Room at Lombardi’s Pizza

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Lombardi’s Coal Ovens for Pizza making

We were recommended by the man at the register to get the pepperoni as it is delicious here, and so we ordered a small personal pizza half pepperoni and half plain margarita (cheese and tomatoes) (about$18). It is important to note that they do not sell pizza by the slice here only by the pie made fresh to order.

We wait for our pizzas at the bar and enjoy a nice cold glass of Yeungling beer (it’s actually German American not Chinese) straight from the tap. The beer was cool and refreshing, as the sun had been steadily getting warmer outside and we needed a drink from the trek. Bad Idea, since it filled us up quite a bit and probably slowed us down a bit (but it was a good beer nevertheless).

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Hello Mr Yeungling

Soon, the dining room’s waiting area filled up to the brim. I was glad that we were in the bar area and had placed our orders already to go. The pizza arrived and we downed our drinks before stepping outside to sit on another stoop to behold the famous pizza in our hands.

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Pizza Box
The pizza came in six slices with a flat crust, slighty charred and smoky from the coal oven pizza. The pizza had fresh mozzarella, a red tomato sauce, fresh basil and on half the pizza were the little circular quarter pieces of pepperoni. It is important to note that the pizza, like all the pizza made here in New York is said to have a distinct light tasty goodness because they use the New York City tap water.

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Lombardi’s The First Pizza in America!!

The pizza I thought was good, not the worst ever by far but not the best I ever had. The cheese was fresh but tasted a bit bland and the tomato sauce was a bit watery causing the crust to moisten and soggify. The pepperoni pieces on the pizza however was excellent, crunchy and spiced to a savory crisp satisfying the tastebuds.

Overall, it was okay but definitely a bit too hyped up. It is a good pizza, and it may be the first pizza, but it wasn’t the greatest.

With a pizza box carton half full, we proceed onward to our next stop: The Tuck Shop, a Australian Meat Pie shop.

Tasty Chomps Rating!!!!
3.5 out of 5 Tasty Chomps!!!

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