After much waiting – here it is (the lead-up to this entry might be more exciting than what you read here, but I hope you are not too disappointed and instead that the great time we had on this tour comes through! This tour all started about 10 months ago….. *insert time travel here* Rich and I had been dating for a few weeks (we started dating around Thanksgiving!) and Christmas was quickly approaching and I realized I needed to get him something. But what do you get someone that you barely know and even if at that point you “know” it is right, you don’t want to spend a million dollars!? Well, I knew that he was a lover of pizza & wine and saw an add for the Food Network Wine Fest in NYC – but I don’t like drinking to the point of not seeing straight, where would we stay, and the whole thing seemed a bit pricy. At that point I started researching other walking tours of the city – figured it would be fun. I was all set to book a chocolate tour when I realized that was probably more of a gift to me than him (he enjoys good chocolate – but not the way I do and not the way he enjoys pizza), SO look for pizza tours, stumble across Scott’s website, am throughly entertained, & purchase 2 gift certificates! When Rich got the certificates he was a little confused and honestly, I think he thought it was a pretty corny present…. We live crazy busy lives (and need to figure out how to be home more sometimes I think). As the summer drew to a close, we realized we still had not taken this tour – so we opened the Google Calendar & found the next open weekend – and booked the tour *fast forward to current time* – sorry for the long ‘back story’!
Dogs at parents – check, Gift certificates in hand – check, Dressed in layers – check. OFF TO NYC. We met with Scott at 53 Spring Street. Which just happens to be right outside what is now an Irish Pub (great place to start a pizza tour?) WELL – this Irish Pub used to be the FIRST Pizza Place in the whole of the USA (Lombardi’s) which originally was just a supermarket that sold pizza from their brick oven in the
back as a way to get rid of their old stuff. Eventually this coal-fired-brick-oven broke & environmental laws were finally in place in the city and they would not let them re-build. But you know those Italians – they were down but not out…. they found a bakery a block and a half away with the same type oven – bought the place and re-opened. Off to the ‘new’ Lombardi’s……
Scott is one of those people you really have to meet to appreciate how cool he is – he has SUCH a passion for what he does (and pizza) and cares about his people (if the pizza thing doesn’t
work out – I think education would be lucky to have a passionate person like this who encouraged any & all questions on this tour!) So Lombardi’s has a HUGE (12 ft? deep/wide) brick bottom coal fired oven (I can really appreciate this after all my days at Quiet Valley) that they bake their fresh dough, uncooked sauce, & fresh mozzarella pizza in. The oven is HOT (800+ degrees) and pizza is in and out in minutes. When Scott asked what we thought, Rich’s response was “best crust ever” – it was pretty darn good!
After more crazy awesome info from Scott, we packed our survival kits (emergency pizza a must – you never know) and bundled up to head to the restaurant supply store, where the only “made in America” (or “made in NYC” – I forget) pizza ovens are made (you know the ones that most pizza places have – no, actually you probably don’t know, because most of us do not study pizza ovens – BUT, luckily for us, Scott has & his passion for it and the importance it makes is awesome). Anyway – we get some education, I see wooden spoons (big big ones) that I need for our production of Robin Hood (got them SUPER cheap – this is why I am kinda cool when it comes to props sometimes) and off we went. At this point, Rich finds out that Scott has been playing with making his own pizzas as well and Rich decides to not leave Scott alone until he has picked his brain clean (and as my earlier post showed you – there was lots of inspiration, some which flopped, but we look forward to more experiments!)
Finally we arrived at Joe’s. This is your “typical NYC slice” (and I guess Spiderman climbed the building in one of the movies & everyone knows Joe’s – I was out of the loop). If we had a place that served pizza like Joe’s – I would be very happy. But that being said – not my favorite slice of the day (“stone cooked” pizza from electric oven, cooked sauce, processed cheese – not a bad slice at all, a great NYC slice, but it was “just pizza”)
Some more walking, more history, Scott making his personal call to John’s to let them know we are on our way – and we arrive at John’s (a 1st generation descendant of Lombardi’s) – our final destination. This is where we had our “final exam” of what
we learned (brick bottom oven, cooked sauce, processed [but good] cheese – by the way). I really liked this slice too, although Rich said it was his least favorite of the day.
Now if you read this and ask yourself…. “they got 3 slices of pizza and some whacko talked about it – what is so exciting!?” Then you missed the point! Scott is part of what makes the tour, his energy is contagious. The history, the sights, the fun, the great pizza – it all works together to make a great day!!! If you live in the city & want to learn something new – go for it. If you are going to travel in to the city, go for it. If you need a different date idea – go for it. Also – check out the places that Scott goes & chooses from for his tour (think of it as you “on your own guide to pizza”) Thank You Scott for turning a “who knows” Christmas present into a great day which we will remember for a while!