Lost Forefathers of Pizza in America Discovered: move over Gennaro Lombardi

Until now, Lombardi’s origin story has commonly been understood to be that Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi, opened a grocery store at 53 1/2 Spring Street around 1897 that eventually became America’s first licensed pizzeria in 1905. While proof of that license has never materialized, Regas has tracked down Gennaro Lombardi’s birth record, naturalization papers, and other supporting documents that tell a different story. Gennaro Lombardi first came to America in November of 1904 at age 17, classified as a “laborer”. If he became involved with the pizzeria at 53 1/2 Spring Street in 1905, it was as an employee not as an owner. By that time, it had already been established as a pizzeria probably by Milone in 1898 but certainly by another proprietor named Giovanni Santillo who followed Milone in 1901.

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