I know, this is hardly Forgotten, but complainers and purists, bear with me today.
In June 2019, Forgotten New York’s tour of Gravesend was the best-attended of the year with between 40-45 people. As with every tour, I walk my chosen route a week or so before, just to see if there’s anything extra I should talk about. I wrapped up my walk with a pair of squares at L&B Spumoni Gardens on 86th Street which has been dispensing pizza, Italian food and spumoni desserts since the 1930s. More conventional slices are available, but L&B is renowned for its squares, similar to Detroit-style pizza, with thick crust and tomato sauce on top of the cheese. However it’s not as heavy as Detroit pizza (which is actually sold in NYC at Lions, Tigers and Squares, at 8th Avenue and West 23d Street).
The restaurant as currently configured was constructed in the 1950s. At first, the Gardens sold just desserts and ice cream (which they still do), but later became famed for its Sicilian-style thick crust pizza. The Barbati family continues to operate the venue. Like Many Italian restaurants, there’s a sit-down dining room and a pizzeria on the side serving slices or in the Garden’s case, squares.
When I’m in Coney or Gravesend, I choose one of two places for lunch: Nathan’s Famous or L&B. However as long as Covid and Governor Cuomo are running the game, indoor eating is banned. Fortunately, both L&B and Nathan’s have outdoor patios. But we’re now heading into what’s historically the coldest time of the year.
Why feature L&B today? It reminds me of New Year’s Day, oddly enough. A few years ago I was entertaining Lisa J., an out of town visitor, and while walking Coney we decided to swing by L&B. Unfortunately New Year is one of the few days of the year the place is closed, so we settled for lesser fare in an Avenue U pizzeria.