Lombardi’s Pizzeria


Lombardi's, opened in 1905, is credited as the country's first pizzeria

Credited as the first pizzeria in the country, this Little Italy institution has been churning out coal-fired pies—and inspiring young pizzaiolos—for nearly 110 years.

When Gennaro Lombardi, a bread baker from Naples, Italy, set up shop in New York’s Little Italy in 1905, he forever changed the course of American eating habits. Serving the then-predominantly Italian area with delicately charred pies from his coal-fired oven, the location soon became not only a popular eatery, but a community touchstone. “Italians would meet there, catch up on local news and gossip,” recounts John Brescio, current owner of Lombardi’s Pizzeria (firstpizza.com). “Gennaro would even help other Italian immigrants with jobs when they first arrived.”

Some of those employees would go on to open pizzerias that became famous in their own right, including Totonno’s in Coney Island and John’s Pizzeria in the West Village. And changing times—like GIs acquiring a taste for pizza in Italy during World War II and the invention of the dough mixer—helped Gennaro beef up business. The pizzeria eventually passed to his son and then his grandson, but by the late ’80s, hard economic times found Lombardi’s open only for private parties.

Employees are trained for six months to work the 800° ovens at Lombardi's.

However, Gennaro’s grandson Jerry and Brescio successfully reopened the pizzeria in 1993, despite some challenges, such as finding employees to work the 800° oven, putting in 17-hour days to ensure perfect production, and sourcing top-quality ingredients when competitors were cutting corners. But Brescio knows that sacrifice is a must in the pizza business—and the payoff has been evident, with too many awards and press mentions to count, plus a steady stream of rabid fans.

Best of all, Gennaro’s spirit of generosity and apprenticeship continues, spreading the pizza gospel to new generations of budding pizza masters. “We still try to set an example for young guys in the business and inspire them to open up their own pizzerias, and that feels good,” Brescio says. “I tell them, ‘If you’re not going to be present in this business, don’t bother.’”

The pizzeria has become a must-see destination for pizza lovers around the world.

Today, Lombardi’s has achieved fame not only because of its critically acclaimed pies and workmanlike ethics, but as a bone fide destination for pizza lovers from around the world who make the pilgrimage to see where it all began. “The way people come to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, they come to Lombardi’s,” says Brescio, with a laugh. “That’s challenging, too, because every day is like the first day. When you’re considered the best, everything has to be just right every day.” —Tracy Morin



  1. SatineReply
    October 22, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    In 2009, myself and some friends travelled to New York from England and stumbled upon Lombardi’s pizza. I can honestly say that their pizzas are the best I’ve ever eaten. They deserve recognition for them and would highly recommend their pizzeria to anybody!

  2. October 17, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    […] Image by Pizza Hall of Fame  […]

  3. April 16, 2018 at 11:08 am

    […] Street, is the oldest restaurant still in operation in Little Italy, open since 1902? And that Lombardi’s is America’s first pizzeria, honored in the Pizza Hall of Fame for its 113 years of […]

  4. June 10, 2019 at 6:40 am

    […] First one would have been John Brescio, the current owner of Lombardi’s, the oldest pizzeria in New York. I went in there and talked […]

  5. June 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    […] Little Italy. In 1905, he was granted an official license to run a pizzeria, which earned him the Pizza Hall of Fame honor of being the first pizzeria in the United States. Lombardi’s closed for a time in the […]

  6. September 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    […] Island in the early part of the 20th century. The story of the very first pizzeria was one everyone thought they knew well. It was told that Gennaro Lombardi started selling slices out of a grocery store he owned at the […]

  7. July 23, 2021 at 9:23 am

    […] pizzas se hicieron tan populares que abrió la primera pizzería de Estados Unidos, Lombardi’s, usando un horno de carbón y recetas tradicionales. Sigue siendo una parada popular en la Pequeña […]

  8. August 5, 2021 at 10:35 am

    […] pizzas se hicieron tan populares que abrió la primera pizzería de Estados Unidos, Lombardi’s, usando un horno de carbón y recetas tradicionales. Sigue siendo una parada popular en la Pequeña […]

  9. July 14, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    […] at the very beginning of the 20th century. In 1905 Lombardi’s in New York City opened up what the Pizza Hall of Fame recognizes as the first pizzeria in the United States. Its popularity surged and began to spread […]

  10. May 12, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Hey there, I just read your article on Lombardi’s Pizzeria and it was such a great read! It’s fascinating to learn about the history of one of America’s most iconic food items and how one man’s vision forever changed the course of American eating habits. It’s truly amazing how Lombardi’s Pizzeria has stood the test of time for nearly 110 years and continues to inspire young pizzaiolos.

    It’s inspiring to hear about how Gennaro Lombardi not only created a successful eatery but also a community touchstone where Italians could gather, catch up on local news, and even help each other find jobs. I love hearing stories like this, where a small business not only serves its customers but also gives back to its community. It’s incredible how Lombardi’s Pizzeria helped to spawn other famous pizzerias such as Totonno’s and John’s Pizzeria.

    It’s also interesting to learn how changing times helped Gennaro Lombardi to beef up business, such as GIs acquiring a taste for pizza in Italy during World War II and the invention of the dough mixer. Despite facing hard economic times in the late ’80s, Lombardi’s Pizzeria still stands today and is a testament to the hard work and perseverance of the Lombardi family. Thank you for sharing this amazing piece of American food history with us!

  11. Katherine merolaReply
    December 8, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    My mother’s maiden name was Lombardi. Her people settled in New York. Some relatives were Damiani, Latella, Some. I cant recall. She would have been 119. I am 87. Some left the Bronx and came here to Connecticut.

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