L&B Spumoni Gardens


2725 86th Street


Winter hours: Sunday to Thursday noon to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 11 p.m.; pizzeria open to midnight most nights. Call ahead during bad weather. Summer hours: Sunday to Thursday noon to midnight., Friday and Saturday noon to 1 a.m.; pizzeria open to 1 a.m. most nights.


Photo by Dominic Perri

Sprawled out over multiple buildings and fenced-in areas, Brooklyn's most famous Italian-American dining complex is part ice cream parlor, part pizzeria, with a broader Italian restaurant thrown in for good measure. Founded in 1939, L&B Spumoni Gardens remains in the care of the Barbati family, whose patriarch immigrated from Italy and set up shop in Gravesend to peddle his frozen treats. The trailblazing pizza operation came a decade later, and chief among its offerings are enormous trays of square Sicilian pies, sold in whole sheets or by the slice. They're wholly unique among the New York pizzas, the dough left chewy and dense, the cheese melted directly onto the bread and smothered in sweet tomato sauce. "Spumoni" refers to a frozen dessert that's less ice cream than sherbet, a mix of candied fruit-studded vanilla, chocolate, and nut-filled pistachio with an almost grainy quality. While the two casual operations are L&B's real draw — the place gets packed and boisterous whenever the weather's halfway decent — don't miss out on the sit-down restaurant, which expands on its neighbors’ streamlined menus with a roster of Southern Italian classics.