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L & B Spumoni Gardens Owner Louis Barbati Fatally Shot Outside Dyker Heights Home

The proprietor of one of New York's most famous pizzerias was gunned down in his backyard

L & B Spumoni Gardens’s outdoor area has people lined up at a counter, with red tables.
[L & B Spumoni Gardens]
Robert Sietsema

Last night at around 7 p.m., Louis Barbati, the owner of Gravesend’s storied L & B Spumoni Gardens pizzeria, was fatally shot outside his house on 12th Avenue in Dkyer Heights. He was 61. A neighbor, Donna Padmore, told the Times that she heard three or four shots followed by Barbati’s wife screaming, "He got shot! He got shot!" His two sons were also in the house at the time of the shooting. No arrests have been made yet, but the police cordoned off a two-block area around Barbati’s house last night to investigate the crime. The cops were looking for a white man in his 30s who was wearing a black hoodie. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a press conference outside L & B Spumoni Gardens at 11 a.m. today.

L & B Spumoni Gardens, famous for its extra-doughy square slices, was founded by Barbati’s grandfather in the 1950s. In an appreciation of the restaurant from two years ago, Robert Sietsema wrote:

The pizza parlor on the south side of the complex peddles round, thin-crust Neapolitan pies, but more famously it sells "sheets"—thick-crusted, rectangular Sicilian pizzas in the upside-down style, with the cheese right next to the crust and the tomato sauce on top. You'll either love this pizza or hate it, because the crust is purposely left a little undercooked, so that the slice seems partly filled with raw dough. Think of it as a savory version of cookie-dough ice cream.

Sietsema also included the pizzeria on his list of 10 old-fashioned Italian-American restaurants to try in Brooklyn.

Four years ago, a former Colombo capo named Anthony Russo testified in court about an incident wherein members of his former crime family got into spat with the Bonanno clan over the alleged theft of a pizza recipe from L & B. As the story goes, reputed Colombo associate Francis Guerra — whose family helped run the pizzeria — learned that an alleged Bonanno family associate named Eugene Lombardo opened a Staten Island slice parlor with similar pizza called The Square. Lombardo’s sons previously worked at L & B, so Guerra concluded that they must’ve stolen secrets from the kitchen. During a sit-down, members of the Colombo family demanded that Lombardo give them a cut of the pizzeria or $75,000 to make up for the alleged recipe theft. He only gave them $4,000, but Russo said that they agreed to move on. In his testimony, Russo remarked: "I told Frank to take the offer. It was ridiculous to go any further with it, just accept the money and move on."

The Daily News notes that Guerra is currently in prison for dealing oxycontin, and he was previously acquitted of a double murder of Staten Island club owner Michael Devine and former underboss Joseph Scapo.

L&B Spumoni Gardens

2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223 (718) 449-1230 Visit Website