Who was the first US Pizzeria?

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michaelcarraher
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2011/08/18 11:43:23 (permalink)

Who was the first US Pizzeria?

This week NPR reported on the pizza war between New York's Lombardi's (http://roadfood.com/Resta...erview/3825/lombardis) and Trenton's Papa's Tomato Pies, which opened in 1912.  Lombardi's first opened in 1905 but went out of business for a decade. 
 

For Slice Of Fame, Pizzerias Spar Over 'Oldest' Title

by Joel Rose
August 15, 2011 For years, a New York restaurant has claimed to be the oldest pizzeria in the country, but now a rival from Trenton, N.J., says it deserves the crown.
A Trenton tomato pie starts out like any other pizza, with the dough, which has to be flattened by hand. Then things are a little different.  ...
http://www.npr.org/2011/0...spar-over-oldest-title
 

#1

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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/18 12:34:32 (permalink)
    Strange......

    I always thought it was Gary Indiana
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=248618
    #2
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/18 12:54:38 (permalink)
    Restaurant goes out of business.  Ten years later, the grandson of the founder of that restaurant opens a restaurant with the same name.  The present "Lombardi's" restaurant has been making pizza for 17 years.
     
    1.) Not the same restaurant company or license, I think.
     
    2.) Not the same owner.
     
    3.) Not the same location.
     
    It's a nice story, but I think it borders on being fraudulent.  But I did enjoy my pizza there!
    #3
    Davydd
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/18 13:36:49 (permalink)
    First or longest continuing in business?
    #4
    kaszeta
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/19 10:12:28 (permalink)
    After a certain age, I'm not sure I care that much who is the oldest.  If you throw enough qualifiers in, all sorts of places can make claims (like Pepe's has been operating in the same location since 1936, longer than either Lombardi's or Papa's has been in their current location...)
    #5
    bartl
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/21 12:57:32 (permalink)
    Davydd First or longest continuing in business?

    Frankly, it is a somewhat fuzzy border. If the later restaurant used all the original equipment, then a case might be made. If it reopened with new everything except recipes and name, then I would say that the 2nd Lombardi's was a new restaurant with the same name.
     
    Bart
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    seafarer john
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 11:05:00 (permalink)
    Aloy's in Poughkeepsie, NY has been operating continuously in the same location since 1927 , but they make no claim to being the oldest pizzeria in the country - only the oldest in Poughkeepsie. And the pizza is still very good.
     
    Cheers, John 
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    David_NYC
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 12:08:16 (permalink)
    What we need from a regular contributor is their recollection of Lombardi's restaurant in the early 1980's. We need to know the real reason(s) why the original closed. There has been some hype promulgated that said the economy of 1984 was the problem, but I remember the period as the 'roaring 80's'. Also, see this list of US recessions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States
     
    What I remember from the period is that NYC landlords greatly increased retail space rental rates in that period. There were plenty of pizza and slice joints that lived through that period and are still around today. A lot of famous NYC restaurants received media coverage when they closed (e.g. Luchow's) but Lombardi's did not.
     
    This whole debate seems to have started with two newspaper articles from the Newark, NJ Star-Ledger and Trenton, NJ Times:
    http://www.nj.com/entertainment/dining/index.ssf/2011/07/nations_oldest_pizzeria_in_tre.html
     
    http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/08/papas_tomato_pies_of_trenton_c.html
     
    #8
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 12:27:56 (permalink)
    My opinion: the current Lombardi's makes terrific pizza, but it has nothing to do with the restaurant of the same name that served the first U.S. pie.
     
    We never visited the original Lombardi's, but we've been to the current Lombardi's many times.  Our first visit was within a couple of days of its opening.  The location is down the block from the original.  It was said, at the time, to be owned/run, in part, by a descendant of the Lombardi family.  The pizza we had that first time was the best pizza we have ever had (it's never been as good on subsequent visits).
     
    I don't remember why - maybe it was because of our enthusiasm - but they invited us back in the kitchen to see the operation and meet the head pizza man, the guy who was supposed to be the Lombardi connection.  He was generous with his time, and fascinating to talk with, and he was a brilliant pizza maker to boot.  The thing was, as it turned out, except for his pizza-making skills, he was a fraud.  There was no Lombardi connection at all, and his well-documented backstory (in all the newspapers of the time) turned out to be fabricated.  He was also hiding from all sorts of legal troubles - I forget the details - and I think he soon ended up in jail.  In any case, he left Lombardi's, to Lombardi's everlasting detriment.  Now, Lombardi's makes very, very good, but not transcendent, pizza.
     
    Bottom line: Lombardi's makes pizza, they have the same name as the old restaurant, they are located down the street from the original, but that's all.  They have no connection to the restaurant that first introduced pizza to Americans.
    #9
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 12:56:47 (permalink)
    Ah, so there is no genuine Gennaro Lombardi III!
     
    Thanks for the info.
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 13:07:27 (permalink)
    I am not certain, but think Totonno's has been operating in the same spot since 1924...although I am not sure if their fire related closure for a while would knock them from list.
     
    They bill themselves as the "oldest continuously operating pizzeria in the U.S. run by the same family". Gets complicated.
    #11
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 13:18:27 (permalink)
    I'd give Totonno's a pass for being closed after the fire.
     
    The thing about Papa's in Trenton is, they aren't really in the same league as the other pizzerias in the discussion, pizza-wise, even though they may be the oldest pizzeria in America.  Their pies are fine, even pretty good.  We used to live very close to Papa's and De Lorenzo's (which IS one of the best pizzerias in the U.S.), but De Lo's doesn't deliver and Papa's does, so when we, for whatever reason, didn't want to eat pizza out or bring it back ourselves, we'd order from Papa's.  And the pies were good enough but I'd guess there are, perhaps, a couple hundred neighborhood places in the Northeast that make pizza (or tomato pie, as it's called here) just as good.
    #12
    CajunKing
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    Re:Who was the first US Pizzeria? 2011/08/22 16:33:58 (permalink)
    wanderingjew

    Strange......

    I always thought it was Gary Indiana

    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=248618

    WJ
     
    You beat me to it!  I missed this posting when it first came out.
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