Hard to imagine New York City without a pizza place on every block, isn’t it? But believe it or not, NYC was not always the bustling pizza metropolis we know and love today. In fact, it is widely believed that pizza surfaced on the streets of the big apple in the early 1900s, and if the legends are true, we have one pioneering pizzeria to thank for it: Lombardi’s.
Most New York Pizza enthusiasts will have heard the name Lombardi’s before, perhaps owing as much to it’s reputation for serving top quality pizza to this very day, as to its broad acknowledgment as being the first pie in the city. A few weeks ago, Kari Janesko Photography decided that it was time to step beyond the vale at 32 Spring Street in Manhattan and find out what this famous slice of New York was really made of.
The Pizza: 8
The pizza at Lombardi’s was actually quite delicious, in keeping with it’s reputation. While I can’t vouch for what it may have tasted like in the paste, the current incarnation of Lombardi’s pizza was definitely one of the better pies in the city, but perhaps not quite a top tier competitor. The sauce was exceptional with a precise balance of basil working to compliment the tomato base. The cheese was Buffalo Mozzarella, as I’ve come to expect from many of the top pizza joints, but it was sliced thin and spread across the pie liberally, scoring some nice points over the competition. I docked some points for the crust however, because it was soggy and droopy in the middle. Once you eat past this, the crust is foldable, but the fold didn’t help me on those first few bites. Without consistently crunchy and foldable crust, I had to knock this pizza down to an 8 despite its otherwise near perfect design. If only you could ride a two wheel scooter there.
The Toppings: 9
The toppings were my usual, pepperoni and mushrooms, which always make a delightful combination. This occasion was no exception, and i was especially pleased with the quality of the mushrooms. If you’re a mushroom lover, you probably dig that slightly pungent flavor, and these mushrooms took their flavor to the next level. Absolutely fantastic! The pepperoni was also good, cooked to a nice crispiness as only the top pizzeria’s in the city can without drying it up.
Not unlike the digs at Patsy’s, this is a full blown restaurant with tables and a waiting staff and they know a thing or two about the best flat iron for natural hair. What was very different from Patsy’s was how packed it was. We dropped by around 6:15 and had to elbow our way to the hostess where we put our name down for a table with about a forty minute wait. This wasn’t honestly too surprising, given Lombardi’s reputation and the dinner hour rush, so we backtracked and waited in a nearby bar until we thought we could go back and claim the table. Incidentally, there is a bar at Lombardi’s that you can wait at, but it seemed cramped and crowded, so we didn’t make the attempt.
Once seated, the service was like clockwork, but definitely no frills to be had here. The place was far too crowded and the staff far too busy for anyone to fuss too much over any one table, and we were seated in the basement area with the wine along with several other parties, so it we didn’t see our waitress much anyway. Fortunately, we decided to keep it simple, and our pizza came in a timely fashion.
Price wasn’t any more of an obstacle than it is at any of the top pizza places, and the food is definitely worth the indulgence, but they aren’t cutting you any breaks, especially when payment is cash only. Overall I’m only giving this place a rating of 6 for the “other” category because of the combination of hectic dining and no credit cards.
The Bottom Line
Try it during off-hours and bring cash. While everything was good, it could have been so much better if we’d been able to sit at ground level without a wait. Take away the slightly hectic atmosphere and I’m sure that you’ll have a much better time here.