I am a Manhattanite and proud of it. I have been to Brooklyn maybe a dozen times in the last 20 years. The borough is hot hot hot with prices for apartments equaling and sometimes more than Manhattan. It was with a sense of curiosity that I accepted an invitation to spend almost 5 hours on A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour.
At 11AM on a sunny spring Saturday I met the bus at 13th Street and 4th Avenue, just off Union Square. Over 50 other passengers paid $80 (children under 12-$70) for the tour featuring Brooklyn’s many neighborhoods, parks and movie locations. The tour is run on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.
Paula was our guide and a Brooklyn native who really loved her job. She mixed stories with video highlights from movies filmed in Brooklyn such as Saturday Night Fever, The French Connection, Goodfellas, Scent of a Woman and Annie Hall. We saw video of John Travolta swaying down the street while we passed along the same street, with the same landmarks. This was repeated many times and made the tour most interesting.
After crossing over the Manhattan Bridge we drove along the area known as DUMBO. Down under the Manhattan Brooklyn overpass. It’s a combination of warehouses, shops and restaurants, and expensive high-rise apartments. The area has emerged as one of New York City’s premier arts districts with lots of art galleries. Chef Jacques Torres has recently opened a chocolate factory. Other culinary businesses in the area include the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The River Café and Grimaldi’s. All of these businesses cluster in Fulton Landing, which is also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music. Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture presently under development has a great view of the Manhattan downtown skyline. Dumbois also home to 25% of New York City-based tech firms. We arrived at 11:30 just as Grimaldi’s opened. They reserved a section for our group and out came the coal-fired brick oven pizza with its smoky flavor and crisp crust. Cash only and no slices. By the time we started eating our pizza there were already 50 people waiting to get into Grimaldi’s.
After a short walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park it was off to Bay Ridge and its million dollar homes. L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst was our second pizza stop. In the spumoni and ices business since 1939 it opened a Sicilian pizzeria in 1941. Again, our group was ushered in to a special section where the Sicilian pizza was waiting for us.
We then drove to Coney Island’s amusement park and spent 15 minutes walking the boardwalk past Luna Park and the famous Cyclone coaster. It was too early in the season for the park to be open. It was then back to Manhattan and our drop-off back at Union Square. Great driver, fabulous guide and terrific food made this a 5 Star tour.
Ron’s Top Brooklyn Pizzas
- Grimaldi”s (Dumbo)- www.grimaldis.com
- L&B Spumoni Gardens (Bensonhurst)- www.spumonigardens.com
- Totonno’s (Coney Island)- www.totonnosconeyisland.com
- Di Fara (Midwood)- www.difara.com
- Best Pizza (Williamsburg)- www.best.piz.za.com