This blog post was updated on October 18, 2018.
They say the older you get, the wiser you become. When you have been churning out pizzas in New York City for not just years but decades, you could say you are wise to how to make the best pizza pie. New York boasts not just some of the oldest pizzerias in the state but also in the entire United States. Many are still serving up pies with the same time-honored recipes and spirit. And some of the oldest are arguably the best. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. In order to get to know New York City by its pizza pies, you must start from the beginning at these historic pizzerias.
Lombardi’s Pizza: Lombardi’s claims to be not just New York’s first pizzeria but also the first in the United States. Gennaro Lombardi began making tomato pies when he worked at a grocery story in 1897. He would eventually take his popular creation big time in the big city by opening up his own pizzeria in 1905. Pizzas back then were wrapped up with paper and string for a delicious gift. The smoky crusted pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella is easily New York’s most historic pizzeria.
Tontonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano: Opened in 1924, Tontonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano has been through it all. The Coney Island pizzeria has bounced back after a fire in 2009 and damage due to Hurricane Sandy. Antonio ‘Tontonno’ Pero, a former baker at Lombardi’s, founded the pizzeria. Pizza pies are baked in a coal fired brick oven at this legendary Coney Island slice.
John’s of Bleecker Street: Started by Naples immigrant John Sasso in 1929, John’s of Bleecker Street still proudly resides in its original location in the West Village. John’s keeps it New York style with a thin crust, fresh toppings and fast service. This New York City pizzeria old timer opened during the Great Depression and made it out alive. Diners slide into worn booths and admire New York memorabilia and celebrity photographs. There are no slices or reservations here, just pies.
Patsy’s Pizzeria: The Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem first opened its pizza oven in 1933. Immigrant newlyweds Pasquale ‘Patsy’ and Carmella Lancieri had a dream and made it a reality. They established a family style, old-fashioned neighborhood restaurant. Pasty’s gained fame and quickly the famous flocked including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joe DiMaggio, Francis Ford Coppola and Joe DiMaggio. In fact, Francis Ford Coppola is said to have used the ambiance of Patsy’s to shape the performances in The Godfather. While sold and franchised after Lancieri died, you can still sample a pie at the original in Harlem.
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