Tuesday, January 21, 2014

John's Pizzeria

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.


It Was Her New York said...

thanks for the reminder - a long overdue visit is being planned.

Robert Sietsema said...

Yes, the second mural is a view of the Bay of Naples looking toward the city

Anonymous said...

Yes, and (although we hear it is for sale?) please add Di Robertis to the save list...

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that John's Pizza owns the building they are in. Is this so?

Owning the building is usually the life saver for such places.

Unless---and it's a big one--the owner wants to retire, and is being offered astronomical buy out prices. How can you ask a guy with kids and grandkids to turn down several million?

Hopefully there will still be a way to get it some preservation status.

Can't take another one of these going.

Must get over there soon.

laura r. said...

where is johns? what street? what is the story? are they selling the building? renting the space? whats up w/this? more info please.

Anonymous said...

Tried to go there for a pie a few weeks ago. Such a line of tourists outside I didn't bother. It's the price of being "famous" in NYC. The double decker buses drop off a boatload of tourists who want to touch everything famous.

Anonymous said...

Re the 3rd comment, on De Robertis: I heard this rumor and went and asked a De Robertis family member, who was shocked and said: "Absolutely not. We're not going anywhere."
Please don't spread upsetting rumors. It doesn't help anyone. Thanks.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Unfortunately, the De Robertis family is trying to sell their building: http://evgrieve.com/2013/06/174-176-first-ave-home-of-derobertis.html

RWordplay said...

And people wept when Mandaro Latticini Freschi closed. The space would be occupied by John's, which will leave a new generation—People who never knew Mandaro—to weep at the passing of time and their relevance to the City. That's the way of the City, and, it has never been different.