New York City is synonymous with pizza as America is to apple pie. Any trip to the Big Apple must include an authentic New York pizzeria meal. For said quintessential experience, stop by Manhattan's Lombardi’s, one of the city’s best restaurants.
Lombardi’s is rated top-notch pizza, not just by tourists and locals but critics too sing its praise with numerous rankings on “Best Pizza in New York City” lists. As a result of being hyped up in travel shows, articles, and website reviews, Lombardi’s has become as huge a tourist attraction as the Empire State Building (well, close!).
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Be warned, the lines can be long and run you about a 20-30 minute wait. But don’t let that detract you the pizza is good, really good, so it’s worth the wait.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an authentic Goodfella vibe, ask staffers to seat you in the narrow dining room behind the bar. You might have to wait a little longer, but it’s a much quieter and more intimate setting.
Located in the Nolita neighborhood (a trendy area just north of Little Italy) of Manhattan on 32 Spring Street between Mott and Mulberry, Lombardi’s, is best known as "America’s First Pizzeria." Guests can dine in the brick-walled eatery at one of the old-school checkered cloth tables or sit on the outdoor patio.
For a taste of authentic New York City pizza, Lombardi’s lives up to its reputation. Its Neapolitan-style, smoke-crusted pies, rich in mouth-watering original sauces and long strands of delicious cheese blends are the real deal.
Pro Tip: Lombardi’s is cash only and serves whole pies only. So don’t look like a rookie by ordering a slice with your debit card. (Psst… There’s an ATM outside and inside the restaurant.)
The numerous choices can leave you tongue-tied when ordering, so here’s an insider’s guide when browsing Lombardi’s menu for the first time.
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Lombardi’s Menu Highlights
Lombardi’s uses an old-fashioned coal oven to bake its trademarked pies, topped with the purist San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh whole milk mozzarella and basil. Additional toppings include sweet Italian sausage, homemade meatballs and oven-roasted peppers.
Gennaro’s Original Pizza: This Margherita standard is above average, offering a charred crunchy crust, rich San Marzano tomato sauce with basil and fresh dollops of mozzarella.
White Pizza: If you’re in the mood for cheese, look no further! This Lombardi favorite is light on the sauce and heavy on the mozzarella, Romano, and ricotta. The White is infused with garlic, herbs, and Mediterranean olive oil.
Clam Pizza: This unique Lombardi seafood pie features…you guessed it-clams, with a bit of Romano cheese, olive oil, and garlic over its signature coal oven crust. Lombardi's serves this dry pie with a quartered lemon to drizzle on top. Unless you’re a clam lover, experts suggest sticking with the Margherita.
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Other specialty pizzas include the Pesto Pie, the Rustic Double Pepperoni, a white-based Spinach, Ricotta and Pancetta, and Buddy’s “Cake Boss” Pizza, a red pie with prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, basil, and Romano cheese.
Fun Fact: Cake Boss's name honors Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro Jr., an American baker and reality TV celebrity.
Valastro’s television series Cake Boss premiered on the TLC network. At Lombardi’s 100th celebration, Buddy helped create a 12-foot cake shaped like a pizza wedge.
For starters, Lombardi’s serves eight pieces of Italian chicken wings with lemon zest. Other house specials consist of Grandma’s Meatball (two huge four-ounce pork and beef meatballs topped with Grandma’s Sunday gravy and shaved Romano cheese), the Eggplant Sicilian (unbreaded eggplant, Romano and rigatoni), and the Pepperoni Stromboli (pepperoni and mozzarella on a baked crescent roll with pepperoni gravy on the side).
Lombardi’s serves soda, margaritas, red or white wine bottles, bottled beer, and carafes of Italian sangrias.
History of “America’s First Family of Pizza Est. 1905”
Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi worked at a grocery store in 1897, where he sold his tomato pies to area factory workers. Lombardi’s unique pizza pies were a trade he picked up in his hometown in Naples, Italy.
In 1905 Lombardi opened his own pizzeria, where he quickly drew crowds that included famed Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. Lombardi gave the business to his son, George, who in turn passed the restaurant down to his son Gennaro Lombardi III.
Fun Fact: In 2005, to commemorate its 100th anniversary, Lombardi’s offered entire pizzas for 5-cents (their 1905 original price.) In 2015 they did the promotion again to celebrate its 110th anniversary.
In 1984, Lombardi’s grandson, Gennaro, moved the restaurant to the 32 Spring location. Gennaro opened the store with his childhood friend, John Brescio, who remains the current owner.
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The title “America’s First Pizza” is controversial. The original restaurant closed shop for several years due to an economic downturn and cracked oven. It reopened in 1994 in the new Spring Street location, a space that was once a coal oven bakery; hence the coal oven pizza sensation!
Fun Fact: In 2017, law enforcement agencies named Lombardi’s current owner John Brescio as a captain in the Genovese crime family. Mobsters get hungry too!
The delicious pies and notoriety of Lombardi’s still draw huge crowds and celebrities like Nicholas Cage, Kate Moss, and Jack Nicholson, as well as international dignitaries such as French first couple Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron.
Hours of Operation
- Sunday to Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Friday to Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Lombardi's takes their last order one hour before they close.
Lombardi’s offers delivery and take-out. (Alcohol is available for delivery with food purchase for individuals over 21.)