We went to Lombardi’s Pizzeria on Spring Street in Little Italy. Established in 1905 by an Italian immigrant, it is said to be the first pizzeria in America. After 100 years, they are still coveted as one of the best pizzerias in the United States and the best in New York City. Now, New Yorkers put pizza into one of two categories: Neapolitan or Sicilian. The former being a thin crust and the latter being quite thick. Lombardi’s serves the Neapolitan style. Another note: they refer to the whole pizza as a pie.
Well, it was everything I had imagined. Chequered table cloths, New Yorker accents and original ingredients added to its’ authenticity. A “New York” style of pizza is with cheese and meatballs or with pasta baked into the top. Sounds weird, I know but I had to try it. We picked the meatball one. Baked in a coal oven, it came out well done and really thin. With a generous amount of good quality mozzarella, it was gooey and stringy. The meatballs (a mix of beef and pork) were perfectly seasoned and were solid, not the crumbly kind you sometimes see. Even the sauce which was born from San Marzano tomatoes was perfect. It balanced the acidity and the sweetness in such a way as to highlight the pizza not overpower it.
Lombardi's catapulted my pizza mission into high gear and over the next four days, I sampled two other pizzerias. The others were more takeout as opposed to sitdown but were nonetheless, right up there in deliciousness. I knew things were getting out of hand when I statred to wonder if I could bring some home on the plane. I thought of customs and although I once smuggled cheese from the Netherlands, I figured I should not temp fate twice.