Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
Do you have a recommendation for a pizza place in Manhattan where they toss the dough in an open kitchen? A friend is visiting with her kids and wants a place they can see pizza being made.
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Your request really set me thinking! Most kids in America know pizza only as something that skids up to the front door by car and have never seen a pizza being professionally made. For kids that grow up in the five boroughs the opposite is true: They’ve never seen a pie delivered by car. Instead, they sit and wait for their pizza in a brightly lit dining room with an open kitchen where the pies flip around like flying saucers, providing visual diversion of a delightful and educational sort.
So I’m sending you to a historic spot that was one of the first pizzerias in the country. Dating to 1929, John’s of Bleecker Street was founded by John Sasso, one of the original bakers at Lombardi’s, where American pizza was invented sometime around 1905. At John’s, pizza is still baked in a pair of hulking, coal-burning ovens, running at a temperature so high that the pies cook in a few minutes. The pizzaioli prod and poke the dough, roll it out, and pull it every which way as they form the crusts, then parse out the ingredients that go on top.
And gosh those steaming and slightly charred pies are good as they come out of the oven and are delivered to the tables. A short wall separates oven and prep area from the seating area in both dining rooms, one of which is painted with a mural of the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri. The kids can run up to the wall and watch pies being made from only a few feet away, or observe the whole process from one of the tables. It is fascinating, even for the regulars like me.
Thanks for your question.