For J‘s birthday last year I bought him two tickets to a New York City pizza tour (Scott’s Pizza Tour). We started at Lombardi’s, a NYC classic where both of us had eaten before. But, the truth is, the pizza here is always really good. While on this pizza tour, we learned an insane amount of information about eating pizza, making pizza, the history of pizza, etc. And we ate at least one slice at each of the 4 places — too much pizza for me; not enough for J.
Here is the oven at Lombardi’s. We learned that they only turn it off twice a year — one of those times is the Tuesday after Superbowl Sunday (aka, the biggest pizza delivery day of the year) — and some crazy men climb inside that little space to do maintenance work. The 363 other days of the year, that coal-burning oven is about 900 degrees.
Then we went to the original Patsy’s, up in Harlem — we were pretty psyched about this one as it still has some of the throw-back elements from the days of prohibition. We got a look at the coal-burning oven here as well. Unlike Lombardi’s, Patsy’s uses aged mozzarella. We liked this slice, but I liked Lombardi’s better.
Then it was onto the Bronx where we stopped at Patricia’s Pizza and Pasta for an awesome slice from a gas-fired deck oven (and a less awesome slice from a wood burning oven). And then on to what looked like someone’s house — called Louie and Ernie’s. Here we ate, what I would call, a regular slice of pizza. Just like anything you’d order from an Italian pizzeria back in my homeland of NJ. (Speaking of NJ, almost everyone on our tour bus was from NJ. And most lived only a few minutes from our hometown. It was eery.) I think Scott, the tour guide, called it your classic big, greasy NY slice.
Overall, it was a great time and we ate lots of pizza. I could’ve done with a little less “Hey, have you ever tried Tony’s in Paramus or Nellie’s in Waldwick or Maria’s down on the Jersey Shore?” from the other tour passengers. And I sort of felt like I had pizza-sweats at the end of it. But J and I are now incredibly knowledgeable about pizza and love to throw out our trivia tidbits whenever we can. Plus, it’s always fun to see a new side of the city… and eat!