Researcher Uncovers Evidence of a Forgotten American Pizza Pioneer

If Peter Regas is correct about New York baker Filippo Milone, Lombardi's might not have been the first pizzeria in the U.S.




Lombardi's in New York City has long been recognized as the first pizzeria in the United States.

Lombardi's

Everyone knows Lombardi’s in New York was the first pizzeria in the U.S. But new research suggests everyone might be dead wrong.

Although Gennaro Lombardi has long been credited with starting the pizza movement in the U.S. when he opened Lombardi’s in 1908, Peter Regas, a statistician and pizza researcher, has concluded that Lombardi’s was not the first place in the U.S. to sell pizza. Instead, he believes a 19th century baker named Filippo Milone is the preeminent pioneer of American pizza.

Regas will present his argument for Milone as a “lost forefather of pizza” at the U.S. Pizza Museum on February 23. He says Milone established both Lombardi’s and John’s of Bleecker Street, but his name was forgotten in the annals of pizza history after he died.

“Filippo Milone likely established pizzerias in at least six locations throughout New York City,” Regas says, according to the U.S. Pizza Museum. “Of these locations, three later became famous under different names: Pop’s, John’s and Lombardi’s. Pop’s in Brooklyn closed decades ago, but the other two in Manhattan still exist. Milone, a pioneer in what has become a $45 billion industry, later died in 1924, without children to preserve his story, buried in an unmarked grave in Queens.”

Regas says he has discovered documents showing that Milone established pizzerias—sometimes classified as delis, groceries or bakeries—before handing them off to others when he moved onto other locations. “Intentionally or not, he planted seeds all over Manhattan and Brooklyn,” Regas says. “Some of these pizzerias quickly died off. But three of his pizzerias became iconic, lasting for decades. No one else can say that.”​

Regas will publish a book on the history of American pizza later this year.

Lombardi's was the first pizzeria to be named to PMQ's Pizza Hall of Fame. Read more about it here.

 

Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Bone Sauce Tops off Pizza in Costa Rica

Trench Marketer Rudy Waldner visits the Culinary Trainer School in Costa Rica to share his secrets and take home one of theirs.

Papa John's Will Pay For Employees to Attend College Online

The pizza chain will cover 100 percent of tuition at Purdue University Global for 20,000 corporate employees.

Pizza Guys Pair Two Types of Pepperoni In One Pie

The Cup N' Crisp Pepperoni Duo features classic pepperoni and cup-and-char styles.

Mountain Mike's Redefines Pizza Delivery Model With New Partnerships

The West Coast pizza chain will offer delivery through DoorDash, UberEats and GrubHub.

Blaze Pizza Expands Delivery Option and Sets Sights on IPO

The fast-casual chain plans to take on larger players like Domino's and Pizza Hut.

Alfonso Monaco Takes First at the 4th Pizza d’Autores

Pizza topped with regional Italian ingredients takes first among 18 competitors in Málaga.

Louisville Rock Band Has a New Jam Called Lupo Pizza

The founding members of Murder By Death have become renowned for their Neapolitan-style pizzas.

Grain Craft Supports Wheat Quality Research

A gift to the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation will be directed toward improving wheat quality and yield through proper fertility management.

Aldi Stores Want to Pour Some Gouda on You

That's just one of the chain's six new specialty cheeses named after classic 80s pop songs.

Pizza Hut and KFC Pour On the Gravy in New Pizza Mashup

The Gravy Supreme is still being tested in the UK and hasn't been made available to the public.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags