One of the greatest (least sucky?) things about living in Bensonhurst is the fantastic food. Some of the tastiest examples of cuisines from around New York City and the world can be found right outside your door or, in this case, brought right to your door. This being New York, you’d think there would be nothing standing in the way of good pizza. As a South Brooklyn native I always took pizza for granted- growing up a good pie was as ubiquitous to my home town as beer to Munich, or curry to Calcutta. I unknowingly crossed outside of this pizza safety zone when I lived in Park Slope, where one thing was apparent- the pizza kind of sucked.
Growing up in Marine Park one of my fondest memories was going to L & B Spumoni Gardens with my sister and parents. We’d usually make the 10 minute trip in my dad’s 1980 Buick Skylark after one of my sister’s dance recitals, which usually took place during the hot summer months, for a refreshing scoop of their mix of chocolate, vanilla and pistachio gelato (iced milk) called spumoni and maybe one of their famous Sicilian slices. That’s why I was so happy when one rainy night, not too long after moving in to my new place, an L & B delivery man looking for a neighbor’s apartment accidentally knocked on my door.
One of the greatest things about L & B is the crust, probably one of, if not the best I’ve had after eating some of the finest pizza in the city. Peeling away the outer layer, a technique used by food critics, reveals a beautiful bread worthy of the finest bakeries. Also, like many of New York’s other famous pizzerias, they place their sauce on top of their cheese. Some people, like my girlfriend, prefer thin crust but can’t deny L & B’s thick layers of pleasing cheese and soft crust covered in their wonderful marinara sauce. This pizza is a thicker, heartier, doughier (but not undercooked) version of the pizza pie.
L & B Spunmoni Gardens was the brainchild of Italian immigrant Ludovico Barbati, who began producing and delivering spumoni to the households of Bensonhurst and Gravesend via horse-drawn carriage in 1938. His horse was named Babe, though I’m not sure if the name is in reference to the legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan’s blue ox. One thing that’s certain is that Spumoni Gardens is a local legend that, for six days every week, is just a phone call away.