The Truth About Coal-Oven Pizza: It's Not As Rare As You Thought

By and
Totonno’s Ur-pizza. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Ever since Gennaro Lombardi sold whats reported to be New Yorksand Americasfirst pie in 1905, our hometown pizza legacy has been inextricably linked with coal, the heating and baking fuel of the day. Other than burning hotter, coal offers little more than a nostalgic advantage (after all, its largely nostalgia that draws those long lines) over wood, which might seem to have surpassed its antecedent in these days of pizza-napoletana obsession. In fact, coal-fired pizza is on the upswing, thanks to new, gas-assisted oven models and cleaner-burning coal. Despite conventional wisdom that coal-fueled ovens have been outlawed, the DEPs proposed revisions to air-pollution codes call these chambers previously unregulated sources of particulate matter and only require that new ones employ control technology. I wanted to do something unique, says Thomas Cucco, who installed a Wood Stone coal-fired oven at the year-and-a-half-old Table 87 in Brooklyn Heights, where he sells what he claims to be Brooklyns only coal-oven pizza by the slice. (He plans to open a second location in Gowanus in April.) In addition to the Founding Four (Lombardis, Johns, Patsys, and Totonnos), which are all still going strong, heres where to find todays coal-oven pies.

Angelos Pizza, 117 W. 57th St., at Sixth Ave.; 212-333-4333
Arturos, 106 W. Houston St., at Thompson St.; 212-677-3820
Bella Via, 47-46 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City; 718-361-7510
Grimaldis, 1 Front St., at Old Fulton St., Fulton Ferry, 718-858-4300;
242-02 61st Ave., at 245th Pl., Douglaston, 718-819-2133;
656 Sixth Ave., at 20th St., 646-484-5665

Johns of Bleecker Street, 278 Bleecker St., at Seventh Ave.; 212-243-1680
Johns Pizzeria Arthur Avenue, 2376 Arthur Ave., at 187th St., the Bronx; 718-220-0000
Johns Pizzeria Times Square, 260 W. 44th St., at Eighth Ave.; 212-391-7560
Julianas, 19 Old Fulton St., at Front St., Fulton Ferry; 718-596-6700
Lombardis, 32 Spring St., at Mott St.; 212-941-7994
Luzzos, 211-213 First Ave., at 13th St.; 212-473-7447
Patsys, 2287 First Ave., at 118th St.; 212-534-9783
Sacs Place, 25-41 Broadway, nr. Crescent St., Astoria; 718-204-5002
Table 87, 87 Atlantic Ave., at Hicks St., Brooklyn Heights; 718-797-9300
Totonnos Pizza Napolitano, 1524 Neptune Ave., at 15th St., Coney Island; 718-372-8606
Verde, 254 Irving Ave., at Bleecker St., Bushwick; 718-381-8800

*This article originally appeared in the February 10, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.