Manhattan-ites willingly sit on the N or D train for 45 plus minutes for the best slice of Sicilian Pizza in New York City. L&B Spumoni Gardens stands out against a rundown Brooklyn backdrop. My dad has been coming here since he was a little kid growing up in Brooklyn. Spumoni Gardens attracts the nostalgic crowds from the tri-state area, in addition to tons of locals after a long day of fun at Coney Island.
Two dining options are available; inside and out. In order to enjoy the waitstaff dining section inside the restaurant, you can expect to wait over an hour any given day of the week to hear your name yelled over a loud speaker. The other option is a little quicker, messier and totally worth it. You can order at the to-go window and snag one of the many tables filling the entire exterior of the restaurant.
The outside area is very casual and reminiscent of any beach side restaurant. It’s really easy to forget you are in the outskirts of Brooklyn when eating here. My Dad decided to take charge with the ordering, picking up two slices of Spumoni’s famous sicilian pizza; the ultimate way to start my first meal here.
The sauce over cheese method to cooking their sicilian pizza is what sets Spumoni’s apart from any other Italian restaurant. Many have tried to replicate the greatness of this slice of pizza, and all have failed. The thick crust is unlike anything else in New York. It has a pillowy center, while still have a crunchy, slightly charred bottom. A thin layer of mozzarella cheese coats the top of the crust, followed by the rich, slightly sweet homemade sauce. A light sprinkle of parmesan cheese finishes off the slice of pizza. It’s totally worth the trip to Spumoni Gardens just for the pizza.
But one slice of Sicilian split between my mom and I did not make for enough food. We all ordered our own dishes, with my Mom and I sharing Eggplant Parm with a side of Ziti.
I love Eggplant Parm. I am a tough critic when it comes to my all-time favorite dish. This is a pretty great version of eggplant parm. While not the best, there are lots of high points to the dish. The lightly breaded eggplant is creamy and delicious. It’s coated in a thick layer of mozzarella cheese which sticks to the bottom of the container. The sauce is super rich and slightly sweet, which makes me think it’s a similar sauce to that used on the sicilian pie. The dish is piled into a tower formation, slightly tilted by the sheer weight of the cheese, sauce and eggplant. We essentially licked the plate clean, devouring every aspect of the dish.
Next, we turned to the ziti.
The pasta fell short when compared to the ones used on the eggplant parm and the sicilian pie. For some reason, this version felt slightly more watery. I needed to go up and ask the waiter for parmesan cheese to add an additional element of flavor. I was a bit disappointed, especially after the other amazing dishes.
My Dad ordered a Chicken Francese Sandwich, and Amanda opted for their famous House Salad with Grilled Chicken.
The chicken francese was delicious, with each piece of chicken being super moist, with the acidic, lemon-y flavor cutting through the richness of the sandwich. The bread was fresh and crisp, with the inside soaking up the wonderful flavor of the chicken. The few bites I got to steal were delicious, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t normally like chicken.
The dressing on this salad was out of this world. It had a vinegar base with a slightly sweet back notes. My Dad and I kept sticking our forks across the table to dig into Amanda’s dish. Once again, she picks something awesome without us even realizing it. Be sure to try this for a lighter dish when you’re here.
While this seems like a lot of food, you go into the meal knowing that you need to save room for dessert. And by dessert, I mean Spumoni Garden’s famous homemade ices and ice cream. Served at an old school big window attached to the building where you order take out or dine-in, young kids scoop ices and ice cream, piling them high. It’s like out of a vintage movie where all the kids work at the local ice cream parlor for the summer. I decided to order vanilla chip and watermelon, while my dad went for the classic spumoni ices, which is a combination of vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio.
These ices are incredible and put any chain place to shame. It’s a creamy, ices, steering away from the overly watery flavors you can so often find at other spots. There’s a reason my dad has been loving this for decades. The spumoni ices was something my dad enjoyed as a kid, and it’s amazing to see the childish grin cross his face as he devoured his dish.
Phenomenal Italian food is just one reason to make a trip to Spumoni Gardens. The other is to share a moment with your parent who has been here time and time again as a kid. Food is the best form of sharing memories and this place hasn’t changed since 1939 when it opened. It’s a place you need to try at least one time in your life. So spend a day at Coney Island, then make the easy trip back towards the city and stop at Spumoni Gardens for dinner. You’re not a real New Yorker until you have.
L&B Spumoni Gardens – 2725 86th Street – Brooklyn, New York
L&B Spumoni Gardens
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Perfect For: Authentic Dining, Borough Exploration, Big Groups, Take Out
Reservations: Not Accepted
Favorite Dishes: Sicilian Pizza, Eggplant Parm, Chicken Francese, House Salad, Ices