Restaurant: Lombardi’s Pizza
Last visited: September 3, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Nolita)
Address: 32 Spring Street
Nearby Subway stop: Spring Street (the number 6 subway line is a block away)
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Since 1897
- New York’s most famous pizza
- Multiple award winning
- “Best Pizza in the City”
- Local & tourist favourite
- Long lines at peak hours
- Home made meatballs
- Home made cheese
- Coal oven pizza
- Limited beer & wine
- Good for groups/families
- Cash only
- Dine in/Take Out/Delivery
- No reservations Fri-Sun
- Sun-Thu 11:30am-11pm
- Fri-Sat 11:30am-12 Midnight
**Recommendations: Meatballs are good. Go for the experience more than the pizza. Try Grimaldi’s Pizzeria f you’re in it for the food.
I’m not sure if you’ve caught on yet, but I had to get the “New York food institutions” out of the way. Along with Katz’s Deli and Shake Shack I had to add Lombardi’s Pizza to the list. Pastrami sandwiches, burgers and New York style pizza, those are only a few of the “must try” staples if you’re going to play foodie in New York.
So what is New York style pizza, or pie, anyways? It’s similar to Napoletana style pizza (pizza originating from Naples, Italy) where the dough is hand tossed and thin. However the New York version is much larger in size and it’s often folded when eaten. Both are much lighter in sauce and toppings compared to American style pizzas, and I found Lombardi’s to be an Americanized version of Napoletana pizza. I guess that’s kind of what New York style pizza is to some degree though.
Lombardi’s is another guaranteed line-up of locals and tourists, but I’d say mainly tourists. I confess, after my experience I kept referring to it as a “tourist trap”, but I think that’s a bit harsh. The pizza wasn’t bad, and it’s not like it’s overpriced, but there is better for the same price and I had it later on in my trip. It was at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria which I’ll post about soon. So hold tight!
Really? The “Best on the Planet?” The planet is a very big place. But if Zagat Survey says it’s “Best on the Planet” then it must be right? Welcome to New York! Almost every single restaurant is Zagat Rated so it loses its affect quickly. It’s not like I flock to “Zagat Rated” places, but when a restaurant has won so many awards, and is consistently on every top 10 pizza list, and is named “best on the planet”, it does spark my curiosity.
If you’re going for the experience, then yes you should try it, since it was licensed by the City of New York as “America’s First Pizzeria” in 1905. It has history. On the other hand, if you’re going purely for the food and the pizza, then I wouldn’t call it a “must try”, although it gives you a nice standard to compare all the other credible New York pizzerias to. For me it was slightly underwhelming because I’ve had better, but it was decent and most ingredients are home made, which I appreciate.
I did experience better pizza than Lombardi’s Pizza in New York, but also in Vancouver, BC too. Perhaps incomparable since I’m referring to authentic Napoletana pizzas instead of “New York pizza”, but I did prefer Nicli Antica Pizzeria and Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca. So if you’ve tried these, then consider yourself lucky to be in Vancouver, if not Italy. But again, in the context of New York style pizza, I’ll still recommend Grimaldi’s, although I heard Florio’s in Little Italy is good too. Anyways I have satisfaction in knowing that I’ve gone to the legendary Lombardi’s Pizza, but it’s not somewhere I’d have to revisit.
On the table:
- Our original Margherita pizza is made with fresh mozzarella, san marzano tomato sauce and topped with Pecorino Romano and fresh basil. Small (6 slices) $16.50 Large (8 slices) $20.50
- Toppings $3. Toppings on half of pizza $2 each.
- This was a large and I ordered half Margherita and half with home made meatballs.
- I’m a bit of a purist, but a classic Margherita is how to “judge”" any Italian style pizzeria.
- Just by the presentation I was already a bit underwhelmed by this “Zagat Rated Best on the Planet” pizza.
- I wanted to see some charred blackened spots on the crust, which is a traditional characteristic of both New York and Neapolitan style pizzas. It enhances the flavour.
- I also prefer whole leaf basil instead of shreds, so the basil flavour was lacking. Authentic Napoletana pizza does only have a few leaves, but regardless, whole basil leaves are the way to go.
- There was lots of ooeey gooey melted stringy mozzarella cheese which is apparently made in house daily.
- I prefer Fior di Latte or Buffalo Mozzarella, but making mozzarella in house is hard work and commendable.
- The cheese was stretchy and chewy and it had a very mild cow’s milk flavour and somewhat rubbery texture rather than a creamy melt in your mouth one.
- It wasn’t too salty and the tomato sauce was a bit sour with some oregano, and I could taste lots of mozzarella, but not the salty Pecorino Romano cheese.
- The ingredients were pretty fresh, but the san marzano tomato sauce seemed cut with tomato paste or other tomatoes.
- The crust was thin and the edges were crispy and chewy, but on the dry side and not very flavourful.
- The centre of the pizza was soft and tender, as it should be, and it was foldable, but the edge of the crust wasn’t very enjoyable.
- The underside of the pizza crust should have some leoparding or blackened charred spots from the coal oven baking, but it didn’t.
- There should be a slight bitterness and charred flavour to the pizza, so I did miss that.
- The pizza would be considered excellent compared to the standard New York $1 a slice pizzerias, but in the context of “the best NY pizza” (which is the cateogry it runs in), it can be beat.
- Our original Margherita pizza is made with fresh san marzano tomato sauce and topped with pecorino romano and fresh basil. 14” Small (6 slices) $16.50 18” Large (8 slices) $20.50
- Toppings $3. Toppings on half of pizza $2 each.
- I went for the meatballs simply because they were home made.
- The meatballs were made with half pork and half beef which gave them incredible texture and flavour.
- The meatballs were savoury, with no strong seasonings, and so tender and soft that they almost melted in your mouth.
- There may have been some bread crumbs in it, or maybe even milk to get it that consistency, but it still had meaty flavour and texture.
- They were lightly browned and the ground meat had a good amount of fat, so they were nice and juicy not only moist.
- I could have had a side of these alone.
- Mozzarella, Ricotta, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic infused oil, oregano, black pepper & basil. 14” Small (6 slices) $18.50 18” Large (8 slices) $22.50
- I wanted the Clam Pie, but they ran out of clams so I just ordered the White Pizza.
- Usually when I see piped ricotta cheese I immediately think “added fillers”, so I was hoping they didn’t sacrifice quality.
- The little mounds of piped ricotta tasted like fluffy baked creamy mashed potatoes with ricotta cheese whipped into it. It was very good, but it just wasn’t the real deal.
- I can’t confirm if it was mashed potatoes, but it really tasted like mashed potatoes with a bit of ricotta.
- Again there was lots of stretchy stringy home made fresh Mozzarella cheese, which was the main cheese I could taste.
- The pizza was drizzled with some garlic infused oil, but I was hoping for whole roasted garlic cloves on top too.
- It had savoury flavour, but besides the mild mozzarella and fluffy ricotta mounds, there were’t many other flavours.
- Just like the Margherita pizza the crust was foldable, thin and chewy with a soft centre, which is great. However the edges of the crust were chewy and on the dry side and lacked the blacked spots that give it a nice charred flavour.