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L&B Spumoni Gardens grandma slice

I'm normally not a huge fan of the grandma slice -- nobody ever seems to get the dough right, too heavy, too tough, too gummy. But can I rave yet again at the wonderful grandma slice at L&B. Very little cheese. Emphasis on the rich, tangy, slightly sweet sauce which is among the best sauces I've tasted. But the kicker is the crust: crispy bottom, not too thick but great focaccia-like texture. Light yet substantial. And NOT GUMMY.

I'm sure part of it's goodness is that their constant stream of demand means you get your slice right out of the oven, hot and steaming. Vs a place like DeMarco's where it's been sitting around and re-heated.

I'll bring down the venom here, but I prefer the L&B grandma slice over DiFara's, whose crust is too thick for my taste. (Dom's round slice is, of course, still tops.)

PS. L&B sit-down makes incredibly good fried calamari. I could easily eat a couple bowls of this stuff.

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  1. Sorry to be anal-retentive, but I think the pizza you are talking about is best called a "square." (Also called Sicilian, but apparently that's not entirely accurate.)

    A "grandma" slice, I believe, has a thinner, crispy crust. (What are its other defining characteristics?)

    Over in Bay Ridge, Nino's makes a Grandma pie that can be wonderful on some days and lame on others. (We just noticed that their takeout boxes claim that Nino's is "where the real Grandma first took place" which is certainly an awkwardly-worded boast.

    But otherwise, I agree, I also love L & B's squares. I've only had Dom's square pie once, sadly, since, let's face it, L & B is 100 times more fun and convenient. We are there almost every week.

    4 Replies
    1. re: scooter

      My mistake. I grew up calling this type of pie a Sicilian, but I thought in NYC it was a 'grandma'. My bad.

      1. re: Pupster

        In Brooklyn, its sicilian or square.
        there was a thread a few days back about "grandma" pies and I said the description reminded me of the pie at L&B. But down there, you just ask for the square pie.

        Im a longterm fan of L&B but the pie varies in quality. Sometimes I like the flavor of the oil, sometimes its a bit off-tasting. The amount of topping and cooking time matter too - Ive had these pies too moist. The edge slices are best IMO. But all in all its an unbeatable slice of Brooklyn atmosphere.

        1. re: jen kalb

          A grandma's pizza is not a Sicilian Piza. It's actually a relavtively new thing in NYC. A Brooklyn Sicilian is a thick crusted pizza. A grandma's pie goes for a cracker thin crust. You could easily eat 4-6 grandma's slices, but after 4-6 squares you would feel stuffed.
          I like Nino's in Bay Ridge. I have yet to have better, but I have not gone to any of the places in Long Island or Howard Beach.
          Check out this article for the history of the grandma's slice in NYC
          http://www.kingumberto.com/newsday.asp

          Also I just remembered Luzzo's in the East Village which is a new coal-oven place with Neapolitan owners does a granmas pizza as an occassionaly special and it's really good, very unlike brooklyn slice places.

          1. re: joyvan

            Fascinating article. Thanks Joyvan for posting it.

    2. I'm not sure about "grandma" slices, but L&B's Sicilian or square pies are made differently than those you would find in most Pizzerieas. They place the cheese beneath the sauce, use a slightly thinner crust, and bake the sauce on top, not much unlike facaccia bread. That sounds like the "grandma" slice descriptions I've heard.

      1. Am I the only one who found L&B just OK for pizza and not worth a trip or even much of a detour for anything but their spumoni? And to compare it favorably to Di Fara's is blasphemy, as far as I'm concerned. L&B: Nice atmosphere, enjoyable pizza, but nothing amazing except the spumoni.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Pan

          It's interesting that the spumoni is what stands out to you. We had an assortment of spumoni and ices after our dinner and were mightily disappointed. The ices tasted like candy and bubblegum, the spumoni way too sweet. Perhaps that's the intention but I would happily never touch the stuff again.

          1. re: Pupster

            I agree pupster - the spumoni is disappointing - tastes artificial.

            1. re: Pupster

              Hmmm...well, I was there at least something over a year ago, perhaps two years ago. Maybe the spumoni has deteriorated, but I doubt the pizza has improved, because of the process they're using. Are they still using commercial tomato sauce?

              1. re: Pan

                When I last walked through the back of the store (this was a while ago), they were using crushed tomatoes. Has this changed?

                bty, no way would I consider this an artisal pie like difaras has become - it is the way they handle the dough and put the elements of the pie together, and the olive oil (I hope still) on the dough that makes it a different item

          2. Grandma pizza is a Long Island specialty item (invented at Umberto's in New Hyde Park or King Umberto's in Elmont -- family argument) which is a variation on a sicilian topped with chopped tomatoes and garlic and brushed with olive oil so the thin crust cooks up crispy. The chopped tomatoes are often replaced or supplemented with sauce. It's now found at places all over Nassau & Suffolk, and increasingly in Queens and Brooklyn.

            Rosa's in Maspeth makes a nice grandma pie, and makes a sicilian very similar to L&B's, but in my mind a bit better and more consistent.

            1. I'm also a huge L&B fan. I also prefer it to DiFara's. To be fair, I prefer the experience, not the pizza. I just can't deal w/ the wait at DiFara's. I love pizza. I really do. But I go nuts on that line, never knowing when I'm going to get served or if my order even registered. But that's a rant for another thread (or maybe for my shrink, if I had one). Whenever I laud L&B's, it seems the purists point out it ain't as good as it used to be. I don't know about that. But I do know, it's a great reward at the end of bike trip from the Slope!

              2 Replies
              1. re: SlopePig

                For me, L&B and DiFara's is like comparing apples and oranges. For Sicillian (I've really just heard the term "grandma's pizza within the last 10 years) you go to L&B, for round you go to DiFara's. I once had a boyfriend that could eat 1/2 a tray over at L&B's and then down a pint of their Spumoni...and he only weighed 150 lbs!!!

                1. re: MrsT

                  I much prefer the square pizza to the round at Di Fara.