Monday, January 5, 2015

Ending 2014 with a visit to some classic New York pizzerias

I want to take a break from talking social media this week to share with you my pizza vacation photos with my pizza family. While on vacation in New York, I couldn't resist popping into some of the standby favorites in New York. While technically on vacation, PMQ social media fans also got to follow along as I visited Lombardi's, Totonno's, Di Faras and some other pizza spots on our road trip. While I couldn't hit all the pizza places I wanted to try, the few I enjoyed made the trip unforgettable. While PMQ has covered and known about all these pizzerias, it was my first stop at all three classic pizza institutions since working as a pizza journalist. The experience was incredible for me to learn more about the rich traditions of pizza. 

Stop #1 - As soon as we arrived to New York City, we had to go the original pizza source, Lombardi's in Little Italy. We met the owner who shared with us about his son Michael who now runs Gennaro's Tomato Pie in Philadelphia but still helps with the New York location two days a week. He also shared that on November 10, 2015 for the 110th anniversary, Lombardi's is doing 5 cent small pizzas to celebrate. The line will go all day but it will be worth it!  Lombardi's sauce is something I dream about now and I wish I lived closer to get more and more of it.

Owner of Lombardi's and Slice of Life blogger Melanie

A slice of the original pie.

Lombardi's was the first to be in the Pizza Hall of Fame by PMQ.

Stop #2 - Di Fara's was our next stop in Brooklyn where we waited for 3 hours and watched Dom DeMarco make pizzas on an unusually busy day. Di Fara's is celebrating 50 years this year in the same location with the same owner making pizza by hand daily. While the baby of the group, the history and artistry of pizza is alive and well here and while the wait is usually more like an hour and not thr, it is worth the time spent in the shop. Dom hand shreds cheese for each pie and then cuts the basil leaves from the plant for each pie. The pie had a ton of fresh basil and was among of the most fresh I have eaten.

Outside Di Fara in Brooklyn. 
Cutting basil for the pie

Di Fara's crowd watches for pizza.

Dom DeMarco in front of a finished pie at Di Fara's.

Stop #3 - Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitana in Coney Island led us on an adventure to meet Annette of the Totonno family. The pizzeria has been there since 1924 in the same location and recently won the Frank Beard award (2009) for America's Classics. The restaurant closed for 5 months in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy but was revitalized and reopened. It was their third major closing in recent years after two fires caused severe damage closing the store once for 3 months and once for 11 months. A popular eatery for New York mayors, celebrities and anyone that knows good pizza, Totonno's is a no-frill pizzeria with paper cups for the wine and two options, small or large for your pizza. The original owner Anthony Totonno Pero came to America and began working at Lombardi's at the beginning before opening Totonno's. The coal fired taste is made in one of the largest oven spaces I have seen and the pizza comes out just about perfect.

Working the coal fired oven at Totonno's

Totonno's Coal Fired oven pizza
Owner of Totonno's Coney Island poses for a shot

Also along the way we had pizza at several museums and in Washington, DC at Del Ray Pizzeria in Alexandria. While we tried to stop into Gennaro's in Philadelphia, they were closed that day and plan to be back!  The experience of visiting some of the traditional pizzerias in New York was one I suggest everyone does whether they own a pizzeria or just like good pie. For more photos of the pizza journey, follow us on Instagram!


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