104 Years of Pizza in New York

1664 to 1889: The Dark Ages: A pre-pizza New York City.

Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1890s: With the influx of Neapolitan immigrants comes pizza sold on the streets. Unlike those from the old country, these are super-size specimens baked in coal-fired (not wood-fired) ovens.

Photo: New York Magazine

1905: Gennaro Lombardi’s grocery store at 53 1/2 Spring St. becomes first licensed pizzeria in America. Eventually recruits pizzaioli Anthony “Totonno” Pero, John Sasso, and Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri. Cost of pie: a nickel.

1924: Anthony “Totonno” Pero opens Totonno’s in Coney Island. Establishes unusual—whenever the dough runs out—business hours.

1929: John Sasso opens John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street.

1933: Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri opens Patsy’s in East Harlem.

1956: Average cost of a slice of New York pizza: 15 cents. Price keeps pace with cost of subway fare, seen as a kind of an economic indicator.

1958: First Kosher Pizza: Levy’s on Pitkin Avenue in East New York.

1959: Ralph Cuomo opens Ray’s Pizza on Prince Street.

1964: Di Fara Pizza opens in Midwood.

1964: Robert F. Kennedy, already being tagged “carpetbagger” as he runs for the Senate as a New Yorker, reportedly asks for a fork when presented with a pizza on the campaign trail. Aides deny the story.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

1977: Saturday Night Fever: John Travolta double-slices it at Lenny’s in Bay Ridge.

1984: The Journal of the American Dental Association coins the term “pizza palate” to describe a burned and ulcerated roof of the mouth, the bane of overanxious pizza eaters.

1987: The neon sign from Goldberg’s Upper East Side pizzeria, deemed to perfectly represent the American ethnic melting pot, goes to the Smithsonian.

1987: A New York Times special investigation determines there is no actual “Ray” behind Ray’s Pizza phenomenon.

1987: The Quilted Giraffe serves tuna sashimi–and–wasabi pizza.

1990: Three Ray’s owners, none of them named Ray, band together, form a coalition to trademark the name, and eliminate impostors, or make them pay a fee.

1994: Seventy-nine people are arrested for operating an international drug ring out of a midtown Famous Original Ray’s.

1997: Italian trade group the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana comes to town to inspect our pies. La Pizza Fresca gets the only nod.

2003: Otto serves lardo pizza: Two trends collide.

2004: The dawn of the new régime: Una Pizza Napoletana and Franny’s open; serve Naples-style pies, unsliced.

2004: Zagat awards Di Fara 28 rating for food along with Le Bernardin and Jean Georges; Di Fara also receives lowest rating ever for décor: 5.

2006: Domino’s introduces “Brooklyn style” pizza; incurs wrath of Brooklynites.

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

2009: Kesté offers ten-day, $4,000 pizzaiolo training sessions, and there’s a waiting list. The revolution is here.

104 Years of Pizza in New York