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Choose Pizza for the Perfect Lunch Restaurant

New York City is renowned for its vibrant pizza culture, home to more than 2,000 pizzerias offering a variety of styles. From Neapolitan to Sicilian, wood-fired to gas-fired, there’s something for every pizza enthusiast when looking for a lunch restaurant to visit. The roots of this iconic culinary scene can be traced back to Lombardi’s, the city’s first licensed pizzeria, which opened in 1905.


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Gennaro Lombardi began by serving pizza to local factory workers from his small grocery store, but the growing popularity quickly transformed it into a dedicated pizzeria. What made Lombardi’s unique was its use of a coal-fired oven, a method that ensures a steady, high temperature. This heat results in a perfect pizza crust: crispy on the bottom while light and airy on the inside. The toppings cook quickly, retaining moisture and creating a burst of flavors.

Over the years, many other pizzerias emerged from Lombardi’s lineage, like Totonno’s and John’s, contributing to New York’s pizza heritage. Each developed its own approach, but they all share a common ancestry rooted in Lombardi’s coal-fired tradition. Although there might be some controversy about who worked at which pizzeria and when, Lombardi’s undeniable status as the first in New York City cements its place in pizza history.

Lombardi’s operated almost like a lunch restaurant, catering to workers in Soho’s factories. They would grab a pie wrapped in brown paper and string, then reheat it in the ovens at their workplace for lunch. This unique tradition added to the lore of Lombardi’s and contributed to the strong connection New Yorkers have with pizza, a connection that continues to draw visitors from all over the world to experience the city’s iconic slice.

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