Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Lenny's Pizza, Brooklyn (Bensonhurst)


There are several "Lenny's" in New York, including three in Brooklyn, and one broken link on Google maps that takes you to "Lenny's Sub Shops."  Just to be precise, this review is about Lenny's Pizza on 86th Street in Bensonhurst.  This Lenny's will always be famous for the opening scenes of "Saturday Night Fever" when John Travolta's character Tony Manero stops into Lenny's for two slices and then proceeds to fold them together and eat them as inelegantly as Donald Trump might.



Nice bit of history, but how is the pie?  We stopped by on a Saturday night to find out. Lots of Brooklyn has been gentrified and cleaned up since 1977 when Tony Manero struggled to escape the drudgery of life in Bay Ridge, but this stretch of 86th Street, under the elevated railway tracks, looks and feels like the tired and worn New York of the pre-Giuliani years. Given the history, the time-warp feel was sort of appropriate.

On the counter we saw a thin "Gran Ma" pie, a conventional plain pizza, and a "margherita" which was mostly a regular pie where the dry mozzarella was replaced with fresh mozzarella. We ordered a slice of each ($2.50 or $2.75 per slice) and settled in to try them.



The plain pie was, except for its thin and crisp (but NOT tomato pie style) crust, unremarkable for the most part except that it tasted really good! Was it the ghost of Tony Manero?  I dunno, somehow this pie reminded me of when "ordinary" pizza tasted great. Not magical, but clearly a cut above the ordinary.



The margherita had an identical crust, and the cheese upgrade should have elevated it above the conventional slice. Well, it was a good slice, but no better than the regular slice. A hint of fresh basil would have helped.

Finally, the "Gran Ma" slice. "Grandma" pizza seems unique to New York. It's best described as "Sicilian Lite." A thin a crispy crust, with a balanced topping of cheese and sauce. This was a delight -- sweet sauce almost dripping off, nicely browned cheese, and a thin crust with good flavor sturdy enough to hold it all together.



Lenny's is very good pie, the kind that would enhance any neighborhood. It's not "destination" pie like DiFara's, but on the other hand you can walk in a get a slice without a two hour wait. "Worth the trip" if you're coming from Dyker Heights, for sure.  Otherwise, let's call it a "can't-miss" place if you are in the area. I give Lenny's 7.5 stars out of 10. Not New York's best, but miles ahead of West Chester pie.

Lenny's Pizza of Brooklyn on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

  1. Hey, great blog! That grandma slice looks pretty tasty.

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  2. Thanks a lot! It looked great and tasted even better. It's the best grandma slice I've had yet in Brooklyn.

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  3. I grew up right around the corner from Lenny's pizza. Back in the day, they had a great sicilian slice - crunchy crust, airy center and nice mix of sauce and cheese on top. It's very hard to find sicilian's like that anymore as they are either too soft from top to bottom or have way too much cheese on them. I still go back and have their Grandma slice, which is, as you say, pretty damn good. But i sure miss the square from my youth. Back in those days, i could throw a rock and hit about 5 very good pizza places - now it requires throwing it a lot further to find them - but they are out there!

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  4. Ron, I only went there because of the legend, and because my fiancee was in Dyker Heights (where there are no good pies, nor Bay Ridge). But I'm glad I did and for sure the Granma slice ruled the day. I love the pies of lower Manhattan, but Denino's and Lee's Tavern in Staten Island really won me over in the boros.

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  5. No I totally get it - i would have gone there for the same reason. I have travelled distances just to be in a place that had some relevance to pizza history. I was in mourning when i learned that DeLorenzo's Hudson street was closing. Even though they still carry on in Robbinsville, it is still missing that legendary history.

    I've been to Denino's many times, but Lee's Tavern has slipped my notice so i will definitely put that on the list to try. In the meantime, i will look over all the places you've reviewed and fill in some gaps of places you might want to try yourself.

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