The Story Behind New York’s Legendary Lombardi’s Pizzeria

  • Based by Gennaro Lombardi in 1905, Lombardi’s Pizzeria could be the nation’s most iconic pizzeria.
  • “The way in which individuals come to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, they arrive to Lombardi’s,” says present proprietor John Brescio.

When Gennaro Lombardi, a bread baker from Naples, Italy, arrange store in New York’s Little Italy in 1905, he endlessly modified the course of American consuming habits. Serving the then-predominantly Italian space with delicately charred pies from his coal-fired oven, the placement quickly grew to become not solely a preferred eatery, however a group touchstone. “Italians would meet there, atone for native information and gossip,” recounts John Brescio, present proprietor of Lombardi’s Pizzeria. “Gennaro would even assist different Italian immigrants with jobs once they first arrived.”

A few of these staff would go on to open pizzerias that grew to become well-known in their very own proper, together with Totonno’s in Coney Island and John’s Pizzeria within the West Village. And altering occasions—like GIs buying a style for pizza in Italy throughout World Conflict II and the invention of the dough mixer—helped Gennaro beef up enterprise.

The pizzeria ultimately handed to his son after which his grandson, however by the late ’80s, laborious financial occasions discovered Lombardi’s open just for non-public events.

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Nevertheless, Gennaro’s grandson Jerry and Brescio efficiently reopened the pizzeria in 1993, regardless of some challenges, akin to discovering staff to work the 800° oven, placing in 17-hour days to make sure good manufacturing, and sourcing top-quality elements when opponents had been reducing corners. However Brescio is aware of that sacrifice is a should within the pizza enterprise—and the payoff has been evident, with too many awards and press mentions to depend, plus a gradual stream of rabid followers.

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The pizzeria has turn into a must-see vacation spot for pizza lovers around the globe

Better of all, Gennaro’s spirit of generosity and apprenticeship continues, spreading the pizza gospel to new generations of budding pizza masters. “We nonetheless attempt to set an instance for younger guys within the enterprise and encourage them to open up their very own pizzerias, and that feels good,” Brescio says. “I inform them, ‘If you happen to’re not going to be current on this enterprise, don’t hassle.’”

In the present day, Lombardi’s has achieved fame not solely due to its critically acclaimed pies and workmanlike ethics, however as a bone fide vacation spot for pizza lovers from around the globe who make the pilgrimage to see the place all of it started. “The way in which individuals come to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, they arrive to Lombardi’s,” says Brescio, with fun. “That’s difficult, too, as a result of day by day is like the primary day. While you’re thought-about the very best, the whole lot must be good day by day.”

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor and editor of This text initially appeared within the October 2014 challenge of PMQ.