Pizza Week is Here and We're Going Old School

Pizza Week is Here and We're Going Old School

(Photo by Carissa Gan)

January 8-14 is National Pizza Week, though if you’re like me, you celebrate this food many times throughout the year. The foundation of pizza as we know it today—flatbread topped with tomato—hails from Italy in the late 18th century. In the late 19th century, pizza came to the U.S. care of Italian immigrants who graciously brought their culinary traditions with them and let the rest of us in on this delicious dish.

While pizza has changed a lot over the past century—including exotic toppings, crusts made out of cauliflower and cheese made out of nuts at some places—it has certainly remained one of the most beloved and ingested foods, especially in New York City. In honor of pizza’s special week, here are four of the city’s most historic pizza joints, as well as my favorite spot to grab a slice.

Lombardi’s (NoLIta): Known as “America’s First Pizzeria,” Lombardi’s was established in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. Though the original Lombardi’s closed in 1984, it re-opened in 1994 by Gennaro’s grandson, Gennaro Lombardi III, and his friend John Brescio. The pizzeria sells whole pies only, baked fresh in a coal oven. Try the Original Margherita, made with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, romano and basil. 

Totonno’s (Coney Island, Brooklyn): Italian immigrant Anthony Totonno came to the U.S. in 1903 and worked at Lombardi’s. In 1924, Totonno opened his own pizzeria and there has been pizza being made there ever since, thanks to his hardworking family. The pizzeria has withstood two big fires and a hurricane, but this James Beard Award-winning establishment is still here. Specialty pizzas include the traditional Margherita and the Neapolitan (red pie with no cheese).

Patsy’s Pizzeria (East Harlem): Founded in 1933 by immigrant couple Pasquale (“Patsy”) and Carmella Lancieri, this neighborhood restaurant has been serving brick-oven pizza to locals, tourists and stars like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Try the original coal oven pizza—thin crust, grated mozzarella and tomato sauce—or any of the specialty pizzas like the Tre Formaggi (ricotta, parmesan and grated mozzarella with a creamy vodka sauce) or the Capricciosa (prociutto, Portobello, black olive, grated mozzarella and tomato sauce).

Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern (Elm Park, Staten Island): Carl Denino, the son of Italian immigrants, took over his father’s tavern in 1951 and introduces pizza to the menu, which soon becomes a huge success. Ever since, people and publications have lauded Denino’s as some of the best pizza—if not the best pizza—in the city. Thin crust lovers delight in a traditional cheese pie, among other menu standouts like the Garbage Pie (sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms and onions) and the Clam Pie (with fresh garlic, parsley, olive oil and a sprinkle of grated cheese).

Carve Unique Sandwiches & Pizza (Theater District): Though on my very first trip to Carve on my very first trip to NYC in 2005 I got a sandwich, I’ve been getting slices of pizza here ever since. Besides its convenient location to almost every Broadway theater (as pizza is my pre-show meal of choice), Carve’s pizza is consistently delicious and is thin enough to fold in half, but thick enough to hold a lot of chunky toppings. My favorite slices are the barbecue chicken and the broccoli/breaded chicken. You can also order whole pizza pies from here.

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