National Ice Cream Month is nearly over, so I’m featuring spumoni. I have a memory of the best spumoni at Villabate Bakery in Brooklyn (before it became Villabate Alba). Where better to try spumoni than at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. L&B is a pizzeria that sells spumoni and ices as well. It’s still owned by the same family as the original owner. There are outdoor tables outside, and you can walk up to the window and either order pizza or spumoni/ices. On my visit, I got both. I saw a lot of people with plastic cups of the signature spumoni with its distinctive green, brown and yellow color representing pistachio, chocolate and vanilla. So I got one too while my friend got plain vanilla. While it was a smooth treat, I prefer my spumoni with pink cherry in it. Also, I prefer the lemon ice at L&B to the spumoni.
The second spumoni I sampled was at the recent Giglio Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from an Uncle Louie G’s stand. It had the same vanilla, chocolate and pistachio in yellow, brown and green. However, it was smoother than L&B and had more flavor. I really enjoyed this one.
Posted in Gelato, Ice Cream, Italian, New York
Tagged Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, cherry, chocolate, Giglio Festival, ice cream, L&B Spumoni Gardens, lemon ice, National Ice Cream Month, pistachio, spumoni, Uncle Louie G's, vanilla, Villabate, Williamsburg
I finally made it out to Brooklyn to try Totonno’s in Coney Island and L&B Spumoni Gardens’ pizza in Bensonhurst. Pizza is a controversial topic, I realize. My grandmother talked about wood-fired pizza from Naples. My mother grew up on coal-fired pizza. As my family worked in the pizza business and owned a pizzeria, I’m pretty critical of pizza. Among aficionados, Totonno’s has a history and is known as some of the best pizza.
On our visit, we didn’t have to wait on line. There was one table available. There are no frills here. You sit; they bring you paper plates and plastic cups. You have your choice of canned or bottled soda and water. Service is rushed and not friendly. Because of the demand and lack of space, you may have to share a table with other patrons, as we did. We ordered the large plain cheese pie, which is a steep price at $19.50.
The three elements of pizza are crust, sauce and cheese. With a coal-fired oven, one would expect the blackened bottom and a certain flavor. Sally’s Apizza in New Haven has the perfect coal-fired crust. Totonno’s crust didn’t have that blackened bottom, and the dough was lackluster. The tomato sauce was bland–just a tomato taste. The cheese was also pretty flavorless. I had really wanted to love this place because of its history, but I felt it was lacking in taste. I really don’t think it’s worth a trip out to Coney Island just for this pizza.
L&B Spumoni Gardens is a subway stop and short walk away from Totonno’s. Here, the specialty of the house are Sicilian-style pies. For those who don’t know, Sicilian style pies are square pies that are more doughy. My mom says that when she was young, Sicilian pies came with tomato and onion, but that is not how they are served today. The pie at L&B is good, but where’s the cheese? I understand the sauce is on top of the cheese, but I don’t think there’s enough cheese. It’s unfortunate because the sauce is very good, slightly sweet and with oregano. With more cheese, this would be one hell of a Sicilian pie.
Posted in America, Brooklyn, Cheese, History, Italian, Local, New York, Pie, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, cheese, coal, coal-fired, Coney Island, crust, L&B Spumoni Gardens, New Haven, New York, pie, pizza, Sally's Apizza, sauce, Sicilian, Totonno's, wood