J & V Pizza
J & V opened in 1950 and was reputedly the first spot in its historically Italian neighborhood to sling pizza by the slice. Go if you’re in the mood for a square Sicilian slice, though the Bensonhurst stalwart also cranks out perfectly chewy round pizzas and saucy, garlicky grandma pies.
Ever-popular Lombardi’s claims the title of America’s first pizzeria, expertly charring crusts since 1905. The coal oven’s original tile door bears testament to that history, and a bite out of a pie here is a primer on the City’s Neapolitan-style pizza.
West Village, Manhattan
The layers of initials and doodles scratched into its wood booths give John’s a time-capsule feel, as do the celebrity photos that hang on the walls. The Bleecker Street spot has had a whole-pies-only rule for decades and is strictly cash only.
Mother-daughter proprietors Rose and Susan Bagali perfect the all-in-the-family vibe at their neighborhood slice joint (no relation to the West Village John’s). Bask in the glow of 1970s orange—vinyl stools, plastic chairs, counter space—while you appreciate the simple art of the cheesy plain slice.
Lower East Side, Manhattan
This downtown spot is a relative newcomer on the old-school pizza scene, but its wood paneling, stained-glass light fixtures and orange serving trays give it serious retro vibes. The tradition is strong as well: owner Scarr Pimentel is an alum of Lombardi’s, and pies are lovingly made with house-milled flour.
Joe & Pat's
Castleton Corners, Staten Island
This Staten Island mainstay (now with an East Village outpost) has kept a family-owned feel and mostly local clientele since its 1960 opening. The dining room is a study in neutrals, but the cracker-thin crusts, fluffy mozzarella and famously creamy sauce on their signature vodka pie are anything but basic.
With overstuffed chairs and layers of eclectic tchotchkes, Pugsley may qualify as a pizza dive. The 30-year-old shop also decorates with Polaroids and notes from customers that you can spy while you enjoy some garlic knots, a no-nonsense slice and the occasional ringing of a gong. (Really.)
Coney Island, Brooklyn
Totonno’s bakes history into every pie by using the same coal-fired oven it opened with in 1924. The number of vintage photos and newspaper clippings on the walls has grown over the years, but the down-to-earth service, handmade mozzarella and flawlessly crispy crust remain the same.
For more cheesy delights, see our ultimate guide to pizza.
8 Classic NYC Pizzerias
New York wouldn’t be New York without pizza. The sheer volume of pizza options and styles here is staggering, but it’s the number of places that have been tossing dough for the better half of the past century that is truly next level. These mom-and-pop joints and longstanding parlors are part of NYC’s pizza legacy, and they’ve got the quality pies and old-school atmosphere to prove it. See—and taste—for yourself at one of these pizza institutions.