From the department of scary rumors, reader Jack sends in this note: "A generally reliable source, with experience in Village real estate, told me John's Pizzeria in the Village (yes, the original) will be biting the dust soon, but luckily I've not yet seen anything in print to that effect."
I went into John's and asked if they were closing. "No way," was the answer I got, accompanied by a good-natured scoff, as if to say Don't be ridiculous.
Rumors crop up now and then. Much of the time, they turn out to be true. Sometimes, not. In any case, I pass this one along because it's a good reminder to take the time to enjoy the authentic New York places we still have. We know now that anything can vanish, no matter how successful and revered, at any time. And, yes, even if they own the building.
Originally founded by John Sasso, formerly of Lombardi's, John's Pizzeria has been serving up delicious pies in the Village since 1929. They still don't do slices.
The neon sign in the window refers to Port'Alba, the first pizzeria in the world. In Naples since 1738, the Port'Alba pizzeria has ovens lined with lava rock from Mount Vesuvius. I don't think John's has lava rock lining their ovens.
There are two faded murals on John's walls--one that has to be the Blue
Grotto on Capri, and another that depicts a summertime scene, perhaps
off the coast of Naples (does anyone recognize it?). Both are simply done, by an untrained hand.
Call it art brut. The paint is peeling.
The walls and wooden booths are covered in scratchitti, with the names and dates and hearts of customers who came to eat the pizza.
And there are many autographed photos. Sinatra's in a prominent place, though most are from athletes--football players, boxers, wrestlers.
And a couple items from Vanilla Ice, who must have been a regular at one point.
If the city ever does get a historic restaurant protection measure, John's has to go at the top of the list.