PIZZA HISTORY ALERT: 118 Years of Gennaro Lombardi

Gennaro Lombardi and Anthony Pero (Totonno) stand in front of 53 Spring Street in 1905.

Today is the 118th anniversary of Gennaro Lombardi’s arrival in America. Just 20 years old at the time, Lombardi arrived at Ellis Island aboard a ship called Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm after departing from the port of Naples, Italy. He ended up on Spring Street, where most of his family worked as tailors. Lombardi took a job at a grocery/bakery on Spring Street, of which he took ownership in 1905 and converted into the nation’s first pizzeria. 

At the time, pizza was only being sold in bakeries as a side item but Lombardi’s was the first to make it the focus of a restaurant. Several of New York’s most storied pizzerias were founded by former employees of Lombardi’s, such as the recently reopened Totonno’s on Coney Island (1924) and John’s on Bleecker Street (1929).

BIG NEWS: Pizza Box Book


Roma Foods produced this generic box over 20 years ago!

This may not be a heart-shaped pizza box, but there have been attempts at such a container from at least one of the national chains. I have a prototype from the country’s biggest pizza box manufacturer but posting it here would be legally questionable. My pizza box collection has plenty of rare gems and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be turning that collection into a super-amazing BOOK over the next few months!

The book will navigate readers through the world of pizza box art and design, a subject that usually goes straight into the garbage. I have over 250 boxes from around the world, most of which were sent to me by pizza tour guests. I document the unboxing of these gems on my YouTube channel, so take a gander if you’re keen.

Now for a call to arms. If you spot a cool pizza box, snag it! Send me a photo at SCOTT at SCOTTSPIZZATOURS dot COM and I’ll check the archive to see if I already have it. If you send me new boxes, I’ll send you a prize: up to three boxes scores you an amazing Pizza Pen, 4-6 different boxes get you a free SPT-shirt, 7-9 boxes get you an incredible SPT Hoodie! Ten or more gets you a FREE TOUR TICKET!!! These can be custom boxes from a local pizzeria, old boxes you forgot you had in your pizzeria’s storage closet or even seemingly boring generic boxes from some part of the world that barely has pizza. I’m trying to represent as wide a cross-section of the pizza world as possible and YOU can help immensely!

**Boxes must be received by MARCH 15 so get on it! Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day to all you pizza lovers.

Help Wheated Pizzeria Recover From Sandy

David and Kim Sheridan have been planning on opening a pizzeria for years. They searched for restaurant spaces while David honed his skills on the wood-fired oven he built in his own backyard. Some pizza tour attendees were even lucky enough to have eaten pizza with Kim and David in their backyard shrine to deliciousness. They welcomed us and shared some of the best pizza we’ve eaten on any tour. The good news is that they found a space in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and plan to open their pizzeria/bar called Wheated in early 2013. (While cleaning out the basement a few months back, they even found a century-old coal-burning bread oven!)


In David and Kim’s backyard with a pizza tour group last summer.

It was shaping up to be an extremely exciting spot for pizza lovers but Superstorm Sandy created a major speed bump. David and Kim had restaurant equipment stored in Coney Island, one of the worst hit parts of the city. It wasn’t until a week after the storm hit that they learned about the flooding in their storage space. A pair of Moretti Forni ovens were already corroded and insurance doesn’t cover losses from flooding. It’s a huge setback, but David and Kim are more determined than ever to open their pizzeria.


One of David’s pizzas. It was amazing.

Please consider donating to Wheated's recovery. If you're thinking of checking out David and Kim's place anytime in 2013, it only makes sense to pay for your pizza now when they need it the most!

DONATE NOW

Powerless Pizzerias in Lower Manhattan

Sandy may have knocked out all power in lower Manhattan but it can’t possibly slow down the city’s pizza habit. Here’s how some pizzerias in Lower Manhattan are dealing with having no power.


Lombardi’s on Spring Street is using a car battery to power a few lights so the kitchen staff can see what they’re doing. Good thing 115 year old coal fired ovens need no power.


Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street uses gas ovens, so they work just fine sans electricity. All they need are a couple flashlights so they can tell when each pie is perfectly baked. I had a slice, it was excellent!


John’s of Bleecker St has no power but they DO have an amazing sign indicating so.


Keste on Bleecker St is so romantic with candles lighting the way. Wood fired ovens need no power to churn out deliciousness.


Pizza Box on Bleecker Street uses these cool (Pixar) flashlights to light their display.


Yesterday’s pizza tour hit Forcella, where we enjoyed a combination of wood fired pizza, candles, flashlights and owner Giulio Adriani.


Newbies Cowboy Pizza on Clinton St made their dough in Long Island and closed when it ran out, just before sundown.

New York Public Library Pizza Events


Things got intense during a Science of Pizza event at an event in the Bronx!

I’m super excited to be running a series of programs at NYPL branches around the city over the next few months. Every HISTORY program will feature a live interview with a pizza maker local to the host branch. We’ll talk all about the past, present and future of pizza in NYC and beyond! SCIENCE programs involve live demonstrations of pizza from raw materials to ingredients to finished product. HISTORY events are designed for all ages and SCIENCE events are more geared toward younger folk.

I’ll be posting more specifics about each event on Twitter, so be sure to stay in the loop!

Here’s the full schedule:
Thursday, September 27 @ City Island 4 PM – SCIENCE
Thursday, October 4 @ Morningside Heights 5:30 PM - HISTORY
Thursday, October 11 @ 67th Street 5:30 PM (feat. John Arena)
Monday, October 22 @ Inwood 4 PM - SCIENCE
Monday, October 29 @ Richmondtown 6:30 PM - HISTORY                 
Monday, November 5 @
Yorkville 3:30 PM - SCIENCE
Wednesday, November 7 @ Epiphany 4 PM - SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 13 @ Hunt’s Point 4 PM – SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 20 @ Mulberry Street 4 PM – SCIENCE
Tuesday, November 27 @ Heiksell @ 4 pm – SCIENCE
Saturday, December 8 @ Morris Park 2:30 PM - HISTORY
Wednesday, December 19 @ Mulberry Street 5:30 PM - HISTORY


Kids learn about conduction, convection, radiation and moisture during this demo.


Sal from Pugsley’s Pizza in the Bronx explains his pizza passion by playing the saxophone in the middle of a public library!



These kids are keeping their eyes on the pie as it experiences oven spring!

Interested in having me do a science or history focused pizza demo in your school or library? Just contact me through the Scott’s Pizza Tours website!