Last week I ate pizza with my esteemed friend Martin Munroe, older brother to my esteemed friend Rudi Munroe, younger brother to my esteemed friend Tanya Munroe, and pretend older brother or cool or cousin or something to me. The night before we were set to meet up, he texted me and said, "I'm really excited about this. Wanna dress up like it's a date?" I agreed and the next day I dicked around in my apartment reading bell hooks until too late, took a shower and then didn't have enough time to get a proper date outfit together, so I changed clothes 4 times and finally settled on black jeans, black t shirt, black leather jacket, black cap and black sneakers. I turned out to be way under-dressed for the weather. Martin got into the same train car as me going into the city. He was wearing a suit, and suddenly I felt like I was under-dressed for the weather and the occasion. He presented me with a Sam Cooke tape, and said, "This tape is unlistenable. Right now my tape deck is hooked up to my DVD player and I have to play CDs through there and there is a buzz that I can't seem to get rid of." He then produced two CDs from his bag, "But you can just remake the tape for yourself."
We got off the train and went to Lombardi's, which was the first pizzeria in America and is now an Applebee's. Maybe it's a TGIFriday's. It could even be a Chili's for all I know. One thing is for sure: Lombardi's is not the Ground Round. What am I trying to say in all this rambling? This in a nutshell: Lombardi's is a bummer tourist trap hell hole and if you want a decent pizza and a real New York experience go to John's or something instead. However if you want a polished and scrubbed "New York Experience" that is actually as close to a New York Experience as having a drink at the Coyote Ugly in the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas. What a bummer. They were playing an early Frank Sinatra record over the stereo system and Martin looked at me, looked around and remarked, "Sinatra sounds kind of corny right now, huh?" Which sort of says it all.
And this pizza was a bummer. The dough was good, but that's it. The sauce was too red and tasted like cans, the cheese was like lumps of flavorless plasticy rubber. And it was $15.50! What a rip! Ugh, I am getting mad just thinking about this bullshit. Fuck. Anyway, we took a couple of bites and both agreed that we could not possibly finish this thing. Martin seemed troubled and offered to go outside and pretend he got a really frantic phonecall and fake that we had to leave urgently. That seemed over complicated to me, so I just told the waitress I was having a crisis without leaving the table, and asked her to box up the remaining pizza. Martin was like, "BUT WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO WITH IT THEN?!" and I was all, "I don't know, we could give it to someone who looks hungry or something." And then we paid our exorbitant bill and left, totally unsatisfied. Martin carried the bag of leftover pizza around with him all afternoon and I think I even managed to ditch him with it when I left the city. He probably still has it.
UPDATE: Frequent contributor and general pizza knowitall Ron Wasserman left this informative little tidbit in the comments, but I felt like it should be present in the main review as well:
"Slice Harvester, you forgot to point out that this place has only a tangential relationship with the "first pizza place in America." The original Lombardi's closed down several decades ago. This one has only been open 10 or 15 years? Or maybe less.
The tangential relationship is that the owners perhaps are semi-distant relatives of the original Lombardi, or at least they say so. Who's really going to check! And of course, it is a given that they got absolutely no piazza making instruction from the late-great man."
Lombardi's - $15.50
32 Spring St (Mott and Mulberry)
New York, NY 10012