Tables sheathed in red-and-white checkered table cloths, brick walls and throwback black and white photos create a cozy yet authentic atmosphere for chowing on some of the best pizza in Manhattan.
Many have entered the gates of this pizza heaven. Lombardis has been serving pizza pies since 1905. In fact, it’s recognized as the first pizzeria in the United States. Pizza lore and numerous rankings on “Best Pizza in New York City” lists make Lombardi's a well-visited eatery, with waits expected. But as its heaven, you don’t really mind. What did make it painful? The sights and aromas of the coal-oven, thin-crust pizzas that weren’t mine. But a stomach rumbling with jealousy was eased by a short wait for a table.
Sticking to the classics is key to the Lombardis Pizza NYC dining experience. Their no-frills menu has a few salads, appetizers, and calzones, but for the most part is strictly pizza. That’s what Lombardis does best, so why bother with anything else? Order their standard margherita pie: a Neapolitan-style creation with fresh mozzarella, a San Marzano sauce, fresh basil, and Romano cheese. This base can be topped with sweet Italian sausage, pancetta, mushrooms, roasted pepper, homemade meatballs, and everything in between. As a pepperoni girl through and through, I choose a classic topping to keep it simple. This was my first time eating at Lombardi’s, so I really wanted the flavor of this much-touted pie to stand on its own.
Sipping slowly on my soda (no free refills here), I observed the original room of Lombardis Pizza NYC. Tables are full with pizza-loving patrons. Families, couples, locals and out-of-towners. A mix of people, but one goal: to dine at pizza heaven.
My pizza arrived, after a somewhat-long turnaround, looking like a poster-child for the “delicious New York City pizza.” My taste buds lit up with delight at first bite, then traipsed around like a fool in love and circled back for another slice. And then one more. It was that good. Crispy on the outside, chewy inside, it was charred in just the right places. The savory, perfectly-seasoned sauce highlights the flavor of the crust. Then there’s the cheese. Even though it’s used sparingly, the cheese stretches in strings from the pie slice in an almost cartoon-like fashion. It’s the stuff of dreams – the kind that come true in pizza heaven. The nicely-spiced pepperoni added an extra flavor burst, but the pie’s base was the star of the show.
Now a Lombardis convert, I can easily recommend this historic New City pizza landmark. Keep in mind Lombardi’s is old school in more ways than just their pizza recipe – they only take cash. If you happen to stop here without any, an ATM is located on-site.