A decade is a drop in the bucket for Coney Island landmark Totonno Pizzeria Napolitana, a beloved slice of historic New York City that has risen from the ashes twice in the past ten years — first from a 2009 fire, then from Hurricane Sandy. Founder Antonio “Totonno” Pero brought his yeast-risen magic to South Brooklyn in 1924 after working at New York’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s in Little Italy. “My grandfather Totonno was the first pizzaiolo in America,” says Antoinette Balzano, who now helps run Totonno. “He initiated making pizzas at Lombardi's — Lombardi's was a grocery store — which became the first licensed pizzeria in America, because of Totonno.” Ninety years later, the brand has expanded to Manhattan, but none of the other locations holds a candle to the original, its black-and-white-checkered floor as recognizable as the iconic pies for which it is known. What may be the most seasoned coal-fired oven in town cooks up char-speckled crusts sturdy enough to support generous layers of sweet, herbaceous tomato sauce and melted fresh mozzarella. Totonno doesn’t sell by the slice — the better to preserve the integrity of the product. Pizzaiolos prep and fire pies for as long as there's dough available, which for us occasionally means confronting a locked door. But generations of New Yorkers haven't minded, and neither should you.
© 2015 Village Voice, LLC, All Rights Reserved