Oldest Stuff in New York City
by Jonathan Zeller, 03/07/2012
Courtesy, Lombardi's Pizza
Oldest Pizzeria: Lombardi's
32 Spring St., Little Italy, Manhattan
The Lombardi's website—naturally, firstpizza.com—notes the place was licensed by New York City in 1905, making it the first pizzeria not only in the five boroughs but in all of the United States. It operated as a grocery store for a while before then, starting in 1897. The coal-oven pies are worthy samples of what has become a quintessential NYC dish. While Paley says the shop's claim of being the oldest is "possibly dubious," she says it's certainly historically relevant because it shows how diverse and open New York City was even more than a century ago. "The city," she says, "welcomed different ethnic groups, who in turn helped shape particular neighborhoods—and food preferences."
Counterargument: One Trenton, New Jersey, pizzeria, which opened in 1912, says it should be considered older than Lombardi's, which was closed between 1984 and 1994. If you start counting from the year it reopened, obviously many pie purveyors have been around longer than Lombardi's. Furthermore, Lombardi's has moved down the street from its original location.