Trained as a pizzaiolo and baker in Naples, Gennaro Lombardi came to America when he was just 14 years old. He settled in the Little Italy section of New York City, and began to bake for a small grocery store on Spring Street. He also started to bake and sell pizzas in the back of the store. Several years later, Gennaro purchased the grocery store and saw the future of his business as pizza.
In 1905, Gennaro acquired the first pizza-selling license from the state of New York for his location at 53 ½ Spring Street. The store, named Lombardi’s, included seating and, instead of the traditional wood burning oven, had a coal-fired oven installed. His pizzeria was an instant success. During his life, Gennaro hired and trained Italian immigrants in starting and running a pizza business. Some of New York’s famous pizza makers who opened some of the most famous pizzerias – John’s, Patsy’s and Totonno’s – all studied at Lombardi’s and learned their trade from Gennaro.
Lombardi’s has since relocated on Spring Street, though they continue to sell delicious Neapolitan pizza today.