New York City is one of the most famous cities in all of America. “The city that never sleeps” is known for its vibrant nightlife, rich culture, and phenomenal food. NYC comfort food is like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. People come from all around the world just to get a taste of its world-famous pizza and cheap, but tasty street hot dogs. There’s just something special about the food in New York; everything you eat explodes in your mouth with flavor. Whether you’re a New York native or a visitor, this series will introduce you to some of the best restaurants in the big apple that you never knew existed! In this series, we’ll be exploring our top recommendations for comfort food in New York City from pizza to burgers- and where you can find it! In part one of this series, “Top New York City Comfort Foods Part 1: Pizza and Bagels”, we’ll be covering the two most iconic foods to eat in New York City: pizza and bagels.
Top Historic NYC Pizza Places
You can’t travel to New York City without visiting some of the NYC historic pizza places. Some of these pizza joints have been around for over 100 years! You know the pizza is good when a restaurant has been in business for that long. A list of top NYC comfort food restaurants would be incomplete without including NYC historic pizza places. NYC pizza is arguably one of the most popular foods for locals and tourists alike in the big apple. Here are the best NYC historic pizza places to visit if you’re looking to taste some of the best comfort food in the city:
Lombardi’s – 32 Spring St.
Lombardi’s, founded in 1905, was the first pizza shop in America. The Pizza Hall of Fame has even recognized this massive achievement. It is located in Nolita, the nickname for the neighborhood just north of Little Italy, in Manhattan. The pizzeria has been family owned since it’s opening and, aside from a brief closing between 1984 and 1994, has been selling pizzas uninterrupted for over a century. Lombardi’s prides themselves on not only being the first American pizzeria but also on being the best. All pizzas are baked in a coal oven to give the authentic smokey crust taste. Their signature pizza is simple: San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
John’s – 278 Bleecker St
John’s of Bleecker Street is anything but bleak! This lively pizza joint will be celebrating 90 years in business next year and has been continuously serving up crunchy, mouth-watering pizza. Easily accessible via a scenic NYC bus tour, John’s of Bleecker Street is unlike most pizza spots in the city because they serve their pizzas by the pie rather than by the slice. Aside from their iconic tomato pie-style brick oven pizzas, visitors love the quirky graffiti-carved wooden booths. Any visitor to the pizzeria can add their name to a booth of their choice.
Patsy’s – 2287 1st Ave
The original Patsy’s Pizzeria was founded in 1933 and is located in East Harlem, New York City. While the famous pizzeria is now a chain restaurant, it all started in what used to be Italian Harlem and is now known as Spanish Harlem. Patsy’s is considered one of New York City’s original pizzerias and is known for its super thin crust. While Patsy’s now boasts a menu full of traditional Italian delicacies, it will always be known as one of the original, class pizza spots in the big apple.
Grimaldi’s – 1 Front St.
The first Grimaldi’s opened under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1995. It has since expanded into one of the most popular American pizza chains in New York City. With locations all around the United States, even those who live outside of New York City have heard of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. However, nothing beats the original. The founder of Grimaldi’s, Patsy Grimaldi, is the nephew of Patsy Lancieri, who started Patsy’s Pizzeria. After his uncle’s passing and the sale of Patsy’s by his aunt, Grimaldi founded his own pizzeria with pies made in the same style he had learned from his uncle. Many claim that Grimaldi’s has the most authentic coal-fired brick oven-made pizza in the city- even more so that Patsy’s, which now operates under new ownership.
Top New NYC Pizza Places
While NYC historic pizza places have a special spot in the hearts of many, it would be unfair to discredit new NYC pizza joints. These new pizza hotspots deserve a spot on the top NYC comfort foods list as much as the older pizza restaurants. All of the new NYC pizza joints on this list were founded nearly a decade ago in 2009. Despite only being in operation for nine years, all of these restaurants have carved out a name for themselves in the NYC pizza scene.
Motorino – 349 E 12th St
Motorino is a bustling gourmet pizza restaurant located in the East Village. There are also branches in Williamsburg and the Upper West Side. However, there are Motorino restaurants all over the world from New York City to China and Singapore. While it may not be one of the older, classic pizza joints, Motorino is known for attracting a younger, more adventurous crowd. This pizza spot is famous for its out-of-the-box gourmet toppings, like brussel sprouts and sweet sausage. Motorino definitely puts a fresh, modern spin on the classic brick oven-style New York pizza.
Keste – 271 Bleecker St
There’s nothing like grabbing a hot slice of pizza after a long day spent exploring New York City. Keste pizzeria is located on the same street as the historic John’s on Bleecker Street- but couldn’t be more different. While John’s prides itself on serving authentic New York-style pizza in a family-friendly atmosphere, Keste serves unique pizzas in an intimate environment. Some of their surprising pizza toppings include truffles, pistachios and walnuts and their pizza pies can also be made vegan and gluten-free. Keste’s one-of-a-kind pizzas have earned it a stellar reputation in the West Village and beyond.
Top NYC Bagels Places
Alongside pizza, bagels are one of the most iconic NYC comfort foods. While many who live on the East Coast will claim that bagels in that region of the United States are far superior, there’s no competing with NYC bagels. On a list of the best NYC comfort food, bagels deserve a prime spot.
Ess-A-Bagel – 831 3rd Ave
Ess-A-Bagel is one of the highest rated bagel spots in the entire city. Founded in 1976, Ess-A-Bagel is located in the heart of New York City. It offers everything from traditional to deluxe bagels and even gives customers the option to order online and pick up in-store. Ess-A-Bagel markets themselves as being the face behind “the quintessential New York Bagel” and has amassed a loyal customer base that will travel from anywhere in the big apple just to have an Ess-A-Bagel.
Barney Greengrass – 541 Amsterdam Ave
After doing some mandatory Central Park sightseeing, why not grab a bagel at Barney Greengrass? Founded in 1908, the Jewish deli has been serving customers for over a century. Situated a walking distance from Central Park on the Upper West Side, Barney Greengrass specializes in smoked fish and handmade New York bagels. While they stick to the traditional plain or seeded bagels, they are to die for.
H&H Bagels – 1551 2nd Ave
H&H Bagels is a landmark bagel company in Manhattan. While two of the original H&H stores closed, they were the largest bagel manufacturers in their prime, producing 80,000 bagels every single day. The remaining store, located on the Upper East Side, is known for its delicious handmade bagels. The bagels here are available in a wide variety of flavors and can be enjoyed with homemade spreads and smoked fish.
There’s absolutely no denying the popularity of a slice of New York City pizza or a warm NYC bagel. These two food groups are undoubtedly some of the best NYC comfort food of all time. However, if you’ve visited New York City and think you’ve had the best pizza or bagels- but haven’t been to any of the places on this list- you’re wrong. These pizza and bagel joints listed above are some of the most popular restaurants in the city with an even more loyal group of customers. Do yourself a favor- the next time you’re in the big apple, give one of these restaurants a try. It’s guaranteed to blow your mind!
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