a birthday pizza crawl

Last week, my dad celebrated a milestone birthday. While he’s a pretty simple guy who is always happy with any gift for the gesture alone, I really didn’t want to get him just another round of golf; my brother and I wanted to do something a little different this year.

If there’s one thing our dad loves more than golf, it’s pizza. My brother and sister-in-law came up with the great idea of taking our dad on his own New York pizza crawl, and of course Nick and I were on board from the moment they uttered the word “pizza.”

My brother, John, did his research and mapped out a whopping six pizza shops throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn that we were going to hit up (perhaps a little ambitious!). I put together some score cards, Nick, my dad and I headed to John & Kim’s place in Brooklyn, and we were all off on our mission to eat some amazing NY pizza.

Our first stop was Totonno’s in Coney Island… aaaaaaand it wasn’t open yet when we arrived at 11:30. Oops. We made a game-time decision to add DiFara’s to the list (knowing that we could get there before their noon opening and be one of the first groups in line, as it gets crowded FAST) and headed there.

Some birthday boys get a cake; this one got a pizza. I think he was okay with it.

The fresh basil was top notch, and there wasn’t much talking going on once we tore into this sucker.


Next, we headed back to Totonno’s… and oh how glad we were that we went back.

We opted for a half plain, half ‘roni pie, and while it was different than DiFara’s (no fresh basil), it was simply scrumptious.

While John and Kim look eternally cute….

…I’m pretty sure Nick and I looked like this the whole time.


We were on a roll by this point, so we headed to our next destination: Lucali’s. We got there, found a great parking spot… and it was closed! Tell me, what kind of pizza shop doesn’t open until 6pm on a Saturday? The kind called Lucali’s, I guess. Hmph. We decided that maybe it was a blessing in disguise since we weren’t exactly starving, and hopped back in the car to make our way to the famous Grimaldi’s.

Oh, Grimaldi’s. You sound amazing… but we were not about to stand in line for two hours to eat your delicious pizza. Perhaps we should have known better than to expect a shorter wait, but at least we got a nice little tour of the Brooklyn Bridge in the process.

After those two strikes, we crossed over into Manhattan and finally we found success at John’s on Bleecker. After just a short wait, we squeezed into the smallest booth to ever hold five people, and awaited what ended up being our final pie of the day.

Another delicious choice.

After John’s, it was time to surrender to our full bellies and call it a day… three pizza pies split between five people was plenty for us and we just couldn’t do anymore, but we were full and happy.

While we enjoyed all three pizzas, Totonno’s was the big winner for all of us. Most importantly, the birthday boy had a fun time, and we enjoyed being along for the ride.

Have you ever gone on your own pizza (or any other kind of food) tour?


  1. That is such a cute (and delicious) way to celebrate your dad’s birthday! I need to get myself some pizza asap! It also makes me want to go and do a cupcake tour for my own birthday coming up! Hrmmmm…

  2. What an awesome idea! I shared this post with Parker and we now have a hardcore craving for pizza…it’s been too long. ;)

  3. Your dad is so cute! I did a mozzeralla sticks tour a couple of years ago. It was really fun!

  4. Seriously!?!? Seriously!?!?! I am so jealous…this is a fabulous idea for a bday celebration. Plus, you can’t beat pizza!!!

  5. What a cute and fun idea! I love the little score cards you made – may I ask what types of categories you used to rate the pizzas?

  6. That is really adorable!! What a thoughtful gift! I went on one of those Greenwich Village food tours. I really loved it. I know nothing about food, but I ended up buying a crazy expensive bottle of olive oil because it was SO GOOD. I also did a food tour in Philly with one of my girlfriends. It was cheese, chocolate, and coffee. That was a great time! Something different, ya know?

  7. When we make it back to New York, we’re are going to have to try this. I think a cupcake crawl would be an awesome birthday or bridal shower idea. :)

  8. So great. We’ve done two burrito crawls in SF. Cut the burrito into five slices and crawl your way to five burrito places- including beer- it’s a great time!

    Will have to think about the pizza crawl!

  9. @M, the categories we judged on were crust, sauce, cheese/toppings, and presentation :) We judged each on a scale from 1-5 and then in the last column we added up the overall total!

  10. What an amazing idea! Love it! I may have to adapt this idea for my FI’s birthday – maybe with pizza or beer or tacos or something. Cool!

  11. Umm…totally loooove this idea. Although this post made me sooo hungry. 10:50 is close enough to lunch time, right? Yum!

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