A visit to Lombardi’s is a must on any New York City itinerary. Lombardi’s is not only America’s first pizzeria, it is also one of its finest — and pizza is certainly an NYC classic.
Eating at Lombardi’s is a visit to another era. The experience transports you to a simpler time, where food was authentic and simple.
Like so many American stories, the history of pizza in the US is driven by immigration. Gennaro Lombardi moved to the US from Naples in 1895 and started a small bakery, making bread according to an old family recipe. In 1897, he opened a small grocery store and bakery on Spring Street in New York’s Little Italy.
Lombardi simultaneously added cheese and tomato pies to his offerings. The pies used up leftover bread dough and justified keeping his ovens hot. Simply put, they were good business.
However, Lombardi’s pies proved so popular that he ultimately applied for a license to open a dedicated pizzeria. Lobardi’s was the very first pizza shop licensed in the United States of America in 1905. The now ubiquitous American pizza all started with this humble Italian immigrant, Gennaro Lombardi.
Lombardi’s was declared “A National Legendary and Historic Pizzeria.” A visit is definitely steeped in history. The walls are plastered with photos depicting the founders and the restaurant’s storied history. In addition, Lombardi’s still cooks in a historic coal-fired pizza oven sporting the original door from 1905.
Lombardi’s pizza lives up to its reputation. I arrived at Lombardi’s determined to try its famed clam pie. Nonetheless, I have to confess, I was leery of clam pie — unsure whether it would be a hit or a miss. However, if you’re in New York City, you have to try the foods NYC is known for. One of those foods is clam pie. So….despite the seemingly hefty $35 price tag for a 14″ pie, I took the leap.
Boy, am I glad I did! The clam pie was a revelation. The crust, which is reminiscent of ciabatta (both in flavor and texture) perfectly complemented the romano cheese, garlic, olive oil, clams and fresh lemon juice. I must say, for me, it was worth going to Lombardi’s for the clam pie alone.
Thankfully, I have a large family. So, clam pie wasn’t all we ate. We also ordered a classic Margherita pizza and a Buddy’s “Cake Boss” Special pizza, both of which were delicious. Lombardi’s tomato sauce is easily amongst the best I’ve ever tasted. Thus, for me, the Margherita pizza stole the show. But, both pizzas were exquisite.
Planning Your Visit
Lombardi’s is a cash only establishment. There are ATM’s on site to facilitate the cash transaction. So, you do not have to draw cash prior to your visit.
No reservations are necessary — though you might need to wait on a busy day. The staff are efficient and friendly. The service is no-nonsense, and Lombardi’s team is pleased to have you take a photo of the historic oven door if you so desire.
Lombardi’s is not your typical NYC pizzeria. No slices are available. You must order a whole pizza. Trust me, you will be glad you did!
However, this is a pizza shop, not a Michelin restaurant. The atmosphere is warm, comfortable, and down to earth — exactly what I expect of a pizza joint.
32 Spring St
New York, NY, 10012
Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thu 11:30am – 11pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 12 Midnight