Pastrami on rye at Katz’s deli? Check. Slice of pie at a New York City landmark? Check…after my visit to Lombardi’s.
Pizza is almost as synonymous with New York City as the Statue of Liberty or Madison Square Garden. Nearly everyone has heard of New York style pizza and expects the big slices of thin crust pizza that you fold in half and eat with your hands, never a fork. And according to my friend Scott, the place to get that classic slice of pie was the place that invented it, Lombardi’s.
When we made it to the restaurant in Nolita, we waited outside for a few minutes before we were taken down the street about half a block and into this back door. It wasn’t a private room, just a back room with a half dozen tables capable of seating about 30-40 comfortably. There we took a look at the simple, one-page menu which basically consisted of the traditional margherita pizza and additional toppings for purchase. Simple and straightforward.
To go with our red sauce, mozzarella and basil pizza, we added roasted red peppers, sausage and mushrooms. The wait for the pie was about 30 minutes during which time our salivary glands started working and our stomachs started growling as we saw the people around us enjoying their pies and the smell of tomato sauce filled the air. And just when the hunger pangs were almost too much, the pie arrived.
I grabbed a piece, folded it as I was instructed and took a bite. The crust was nice and thin, a little soft and chewy with just a touch of crunch. The fresh mozzarella was gooey and delicious and the hint of basil provided that perfect freshness that only basil can provide. But the tomato sauce really stole the show; a fresh, sweetness with each bite. The flavors of the tomato with a bit of garlic were what set this pizza apart from others.
I made it through about three pieces before I was sufficiently full and happy. It really was a great slice of pizza. Not quite the style that I had in Italy, nor the Chicago-style I had a Lou Malnati’s. And definitely not like the flatbread style of the current trendy pizzerias. It was something that took Italian influences, but was still distinctly New York. At the end of the day, the fact that I didn’t really get much of the red pepper at all, and the mushrooms were ok, I didn’t ally care. I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza and the experience and can now check that off my New York food bucket list.
Final Verdict – 3.75 Stars