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Is Lombardi's worth it for the history?

Hello all. Yes, yes...I know if I searched I would find an endless list of pizza's in Manhattan to try. However, this summer, my dad and I are heading to NYC before our trip to Greece (think of it...as a warm up :P ). We already plan on making reservations at Babbo when the 30-day-in-advance mark hits, but we really want to try some NYC pizza - which neither of us has had before. Of course, Lombardi's was the first that came to mind with the obvious nod to history and such. Taking into account the quality of food and the fact that this is the one time me or my dad might ever eat a pizza in NYC (ok, maybe a tad overdramatic, but worst case scenerio), is Lombardi's a good choice?

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  1. The history of Lombardi's is a fiction. The original Lombardi's was opened across the street and down the block at 23 1/2 Spring Street. It closed in the 60's or 70's and then the name was purchased from the family and a pizzaria was opened at the present location in what had been a bakery with an existing coal oven. The most important "fact" however is that the pizza is consistently average. It is usually undercooked and little effort appears to be made by the staff concearning anything other then turning tables. If it is history and great pizza you seek there are to places turning out such pizza in the same location sinse the the 1920's, Totonno's in Coney Island and Patsy's in East Harlem.

    1. While I would agree with Stuart that Lombardi's isn't necessarily worth it for the history since it is not in the original location anymore, it it worth it for the pizza. Especially if you're in the neighborhood. Be forewarned, however, that the lines can get a bit nutty to get a table.

      The truth is, there's truly great pizza all over NYC! And lots of variation on what constitutes great pizza as well. You can find lots about NYC pizza on the pizza blogs, e.g., slice.seriouseats.com/. I will note that few bloggers seem to mention Angelo's Coal Oven Pizza on 57th Street (http://www.angelospizzany.com/) which I enjoy a lot.

      1. agreed with everybody above.......when people say "ohhh lombardi's was the first pizzeria in nyc: opened back in the early 1900's"........yes that is true...........but the one that is around now is not "that pizzeria"........so the "history" has been altered slightly......... there's really no love gone into the pizza making craft at lombardi's (unlike in the olden days when gennaro was slinging pies).........for the best pizza in nyc.......i'd recommend hitting up una pizza napoletana on the lower east side!
        you can be a part of this generations history..... this pizza is made from the "present day's" gennaro lombardi, anthony mangieri

        1. You are way better off going to Grimaldis in BK - the walk across the bridge takes about the same time as waiting in the Lombardis line and you get a view.

          Pizza is 10x better ate Grimaldis

          7 Replies
          1. re: dwaves

            Yeah, we were thinking about Grimaldis. Is it a long walk across the bridge?

            1. re: dwaves

              I strongly disagree with the Grimaldi's suggestion. I also think you can do better than Lombardi's. As a visitor to Manhattan, I'd go to Arturo's, Patsy's (East Harlem only) or John's -- in that order of preference.

              1. re: a_and_w

                The walk is a bit long but worth it.
                I mention Grimaldis as the best in BK.
                There are some fines places in NYC as mentioned above, but Lombardis does not make the list.

                Just my opinion however. I recomend trying as many as you have time for and then decide for yourself.

                1. re: dwaves

                  In my opinion, Difara, Totonno's, and L&B in Brooklyn are all significantly better. Grimaldi's has been coasting on rep for some time.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    So staying in Manhattan, are we better to go with John's?

                  2. re: dwaves

                    Best in BK? LOL.....Lucali's is much better.

                    To all the lombardi's poo-poo'ers, I still love the place. I think people like to trash it on CH but its consistently one of the best pizzas in the immediate area (I've worked on the area for 6 years now).

              2. Pizza, and steakhouses are really impossible to get solid suggestions off of, because tastes are often so specific to preference. I mean, to me, a place like Johns is serving generic 50's style pies which aren't deserving of the praise, mainly because of where I grew up, and what I associate with crappy pizza.... to many others, they would say John's is the best.

                I've had top notch pizzas from Lombardi's, and then some not so good undercooked ones. The trick is to ask for it well done, and avoid a lot of toppings. Try and sit in the middle room, with the exposed brick and wood booths, if you want the history. The other rooms, including the entrance are newer add ons. I love the middle room though, and think it's well worth eating there, even if you might find better pizzas, with better ingredients. Think of it as a rite of passage, or ground zero for the fresh mozz. pizza of New York. The other upside is you don't have to hike to Brooklyn, or go way uptown for it.

                If you give us a sense of what your dream pizza would be like, we might be able to steer you in a better direction though. You might also just try and find some pictures on the pizza blogs and see if it matches what you have in your head!

                4 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof

                  Trust me, I've looked at pictures :P. I'm a self-proclaimed foodporn lover. I like how lombardi's pies look. I guess...my dad and I are looking for a good crust. Not cracker crumbly or Chicago thick, with a good char as well. That probably narrows the list down to a few hundred places in NYC, right? Haha.

                  1. re: pastry634

                    Yup, that helps a lot actually. I love crust too, and I think you'll have a great time with Lombardi's.

                    You can also try a slice at a newer takeout place called Artichokes pizza, if Lombardi's doesn't give you the fix you need.

                    1. re: pastry634

                      Personally, I don't like Lombardis (but I've never asked for my pies well done -- not sure if I want to brave those lines, though). But I know many, many tourists who've raved about them. So if you don't mind waiting on line, you'll probably be happy with that choice.

                      Generally, I prefer Grimaldis for most tourists because they usually like to do that Brooklyn Bridge walk and see and take pictures of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn. And I also prefer Grimaldis to Lombardis for pizza.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        It's really a taste and experience thing, but they both have their share of fans and foes. I've never waited in line for Lombardi's, but I've walked past when they were calling names from an intercom, and it looked like a nightmare. It's easy to avoid their rush hour though.

                        The Brooklyn Bridge walk to Grimaldis is a really great outting, tourists should do unless they're pressed for time, or the weather is bad. You have to be someone who likes to walk across bridges, because it's a little hike to be honest. I always feel bad when I hear the combo mentioned to tourists, but hey, if you're young and spry and have the time, then be sure to stop into Jaques Torres and the Ice Cream place too.

                  2. All I have to say is YES YES YES. All the haters can take multiple subways to find the best pizza, I've never had a bad pie at Lombardi's. I also like (as previously noted) John's...I love the 44th St location.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ballulah

                      We might check out Lombardi's before our flight at around 2 pm. I am very excited for our trip to NYC. I've heard great things about both Babbo and Lombardi's.