L&B Spumoni Gardens;
and a glossary of New York Jargon
L&B Spumoni Gardens is a family owned business since the 1930’s. It’s been on all of the GREAT NYC pizza lists all my life. Johns, Joe’s, NY Pizza Supreme, Prince Street Pizza, DiFaro’s, Lombardi’s, Sorbello’s are esoteric company indeed. I’ve been to Coney Island maybe 3 times in my lifetime (that I can remember). After yesterdays fiasco “Moo Eats: The Subway Rule“, I needed to get back on track and go to L&B to try their renouned world class pizza.
We don’t have a “metro” here in NYC. We take the train which we also call it the subway, the terms are interchangable. Sometimes in The City it takes 2 hours to drive a car 11 miles and you likely won’t find a place to park. Then it costs 12 bux to park at a meter, or we won’t even discuss how much it costs to park in a lot or garage. When I want a slice of pizza sometimes you take the subway, one zone fare $2.75 to anywhere.
The term “Coney Island” conjures up dramatically different images in different parts of the country. Coney Island, New York is the Terminus of the D,N & F trains. These are subways, but they go above ground in Brooklyn and are ‘Elevated Trains’, also known as “the L”, but not to be confused with “The L” train (proper noun) which is a whole other subway line. We have an “L” train which is any elevated train and “The L” train which is a specific line, we call them the same thing, we spell them the same way and we never confuse them. Isn’t that clear?
In Michigan a “Coney Island” is a diner that serves hot dogs. Very confusing, not clear cut or obvious like the “L” train.
L&B Spumoni Gardens isn’t on Coney Island, but it’s just a mile or so away. It’s ON Long Island, but no-one will tell you that because it’s IN Brooklyn which is in Kings County and is part of the city of New York. No one who lives within the political boundries of the city of New York lives or works ‘ON’ Long Island, even though geographically that’s where Brooklyn and Queens are physically. We locals don’t really understand it either, we just know it, as is evidenced by this google entry:
QUESTION: What are the 7 boroughs of New York City?
ANSWER: New York City encompasses five county-level administrative divisions called boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
Onto the D Train subway, over the Manhattan Bridge and towards Coney Island to try one of the most highly rated New York City pizzas at L&B Spumoni Gardens.
I get off the train at 25th street in Brooklyn 31 minutes later and walk DOWN the stairs (it’s an elevated train at that point). I smell the cool seabreeze in the hot sun off the Atlantic, it feels like I’m at the beach. I’m still 1 mile from the beach (not the coast, not the seashore, not ‘down the shore’, we call it THE BEACH) and walk the half mile to L&B Spumoni Gardens. I pass through Gravesend and it’s like any other traditional New York City neighborhood. Signs in Korean, Greek, Farsi, Chinese, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Turkish on every block, and people to match! It’s so nice to feel at home.
There is the sign and much to my shock, a PARKING LOT!!! While this may look normal to most readers, a pizza place or restaurant with PARKING LOT is just not a “thing” here in The City. This place must be old, really old as there are no other parking lots in sight, let alone one owned by the restaurant! Quite frankly i’m shocked they haven’t sold it to a developer to turn it into a high rise luxury condo yet.
And what do we have here? Picnic tables, a lot of them, and serving windows in the storefront! This place belongs ON the boardwalk at the BEACH at Coney Island. Unlike yesterday, it’s 4pm here and the place is NOT empty.
I walk up to the window and crouch over to order. The place has two kindza pizza slices, square and round, very old fashioned. In New York, that would translate into “Sicilian” and “Neopolitan”. I order two corners of square. I love the corners, it’s a treat, like a corner piece of a brownie. Most people like the middle – less crust, but i’m a corner guy. The square is made in a large rectangular pan and it looks amazing.
$7.25 for two slices and a can of soda. compared to yesterday, such a deal!
There are several pizzas around the city, but often the places that make great Neopolitan pizza have crappy Sicilian Pizza. For Sicilian I love Prince Street Pizza which is close to Sicily and that’s about it. I have to go to Long Island to Umberto’s of New Hyde Park, or Emilio’s for a great Sicilian slice. Umberto’s is beautifully balanced and the crust is crunch fried in the olive oil in the pan it’s made in. Emilios is yeasty and doughy and a pure delight for my mouth.
L&B manages to encompass the best of all three of my favorite Sicilian pizza’s in their one slice. Crunchy fried crust with a slight char, a touch of yeastyness and doughy center with wonderful sauce and cheese.
Believe the Hype.
I’ll have to go back, I think I have a new favorite Sicilian, “Square” slice of pizza. They also have a nice looking restaurant which I would like to try.
A quick visit to the back of the kitchen, they are definately setup to do large volume.
Time to go home, bythe “EL”.
Onto the subway.
The 7 Train has been called “The International Express” for years. The D Train can be ‘The International Local’.
35 minutes later, i’m home.