Opened in 1897 just down the street from its present location, Lombardi's is one of the city's oldest eateries. Now, since taking over the space next door, the restaurant has almost doubled its former size. And while the original half--with its well-worn booths and open kitchen--easily outcharms the new dining room, the famously long wait has been cut in half, and thanks to the addition of a bar, it's almost a pleasure.
The reason to come here is obvious: beautiful, smoky-crusted pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. The genius of this pizza starts with the crust, which is black and crispy on the underside (with pleasant, slightly bitter overtones), but gives way to a wonderfully soft, yeasty interior. Signature toppings like double-cut pepperoni and homemade meatballs, along with the restaurant's famous clam pie, keep locals and tourists alike coming back. Probably the best pizza in the United States.
According to documented history, Lombardi's was the first American pizzeria. Pizza didn't gain its popularity until just after World War II, but Lombardi's, opened by Gennaro Lombardi, began selling pizza in New York City in 1905, so you might say Gennaro is the father of American pizza. Lombardi's was originally a grocery store, but it soon became a popular stop for workers looking for something to take to work for lunch. Gennaro started selling tomato pies, which were wrapped in paper and tied with a string, and the many workers of Italian descent would take them to the job site. Most could not afford the entire pie, so it was often sold by the piece. There was no set price or size, so you asked for whatever lets say 2 cents would buy and you were given portion of what was equal to the amount offered. Gennaro's son, John, took over after Gennaro passed away and the business eventually went to Genarro's grandson, Jerry. Over the years, Lombardi's continued to sell pizza, becoming a cult-like Mecca for pizza enthusiasts. In 1984, Lombardi's closed its doors. In 1994, John Brescio, who was a childhood friend of Gennaro's grandson, Jerry, started talking to Jerry about reopening Lombardi's and in that same year they did, but not in the same location. They moved a block down the street to 32 Spring Street. (This paragraph copyright 2003 Lombardi's Original Pizza of New York, Inc.)
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