A piece of pizza history inside a Nolita restaurant

Is Lombardi’s really the first pizzeria in the entire United States, as a sign above their storefront at 32 Spring Street claims?

Pizza historians agree: yes.

“Lombardi’s can trace its history back to 1897, when Neapolitan immigrant Genarro Lombardi opened an Italian grocery and provisions shop (below) at 531/2 Spring Street,” states Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Guide to New York City.

Lombardi’s grocery “soon became a popular stop for workers looking for something to take to work for lunch,” says Tom Boyles of Pizza Magazine (yes, this exists).

“Gennaro started selling cheese 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.”

In 1905 Lombardi’s applied for a license to sell what was known as pizza back in Italy. We can credit Genarro with introducing America to the glory of coal-oven pies (traditionally wood ovens were used, but coal in New York was easier to come by).

The original Lombardis shut its doors and now dishes out its piping hot cheesy, bubbly, thin-crust goodness down the block.

Hiding in the steaming hot kitchen, where several pizzaiolas shuck uncooked pies into the 800-degree oven, is a relic of Lombardi’s old Little Italy past.

The door to the coal oven is the same door from the original restaurant, with “1905 Lombardi” spelled out in black and white tiles to mark its importance.

[Top photo: Wikipedia; second photo: Lombardi’s/firstpizza.com]

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6 Responses to “A piece of pizza history inside a Nolita restaurant”

  1. Ricky Says:

    How come we’ve never been?

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Lets go!

  3. Tom B Says:

    We went there years ago after walking the High Line. Spring Street was bumper to bumper all the way. Should of taken Houston Street.
    The pizza was good and the waitress was friendly. It was crowded but we got a table right away. All of our visits to NYC were very enjoyable and everyone has always been nice to us. People do their job proficiently every where we went. Not like here in Florida.

  4. eric Says:

    Coal fired! Make pizza great again!!

  5. 4/6: The best 24 hour restaurants; Most expensive townhouse; History of pizza | SpotCorner Says:

    […] A piece of pizza history inside a Nolita restaurant “Lombardi’s can trace its history back to 1897, when Neapolitan immigrant Genarro Lombardi opened an Italian grocery and provisions shop (below) at 531/2 Spring Street,” states Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Guide to New York City. (Ephemeral New York) […]

  6. Aitch Mack Says:

    Perhaps coal fired pizza will help revive those lost jobs. Mr. President?

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