By Josh Bishop
For cheesesteak, go to Philadelphia. For hot dogs, head to Chicago. New Orleans is the destination for jambalaya or a good po’boy. And for pizza? Tony Muia thinks you should go to Brooklyn — and he just may be right.
Fueled by the desire to do bus tours that feature the foods, neighborhoods, landmarks, and famous movie locations of his hometown, Muia started the A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours company in 2005. Muia’s wildly popular A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour heads into Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods to visit the borough’s best pizzerias, along with locations from movies such as Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas, and The French Connection.
But as interesting as the film locations can be (groups will see clips from the movies on bus monitors), the real attraction is the pizza.
The 4.5-hour A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour takes groups to two local restaurants that serve what can arguably be called the best pizza in America. The “Second” City might disagree, but as Chicago-native and First Lady Michelle Obama admitted on a recent trip to Grimaldi’s, the Brooklyn pizzeria’s brick oven Neapolitan-style pies might actually be better than the Windy City’s famous deep-dish.
It’s fairly common to see a line stretch down the street outside of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, under the Brooklyn Bridge. Groups on the pizza tour get to skip the line altogether and head inside to enjoy a slice of the pizza, which is baked in a coal-fired brick oven, which gives it a flavor entirely unlike pizzas cooked in wood, gas, or convention ovens.
Another legend among Brooklyn pizzerias — and also included on the tour — is L&B Spumoni Gardens, which specializes in Sicilian-style pies, in which the cheese is placed below the sauce, and homemade spumoni. Pizza and soft drinks at both locations are included in the tour.
In addition to some of Brooklyn’s hottest pizza places, A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour also takes groups along tree-lined Brooklyn streets past brownstones, the million dollar homes on scenic Shore Road in Bay Ridge, and past Keystone Park, where baseball has returned to the borough.
Group members can see Coney Island’s amusement park and boardwalk, learn about the history of the Brooklyn Bridge, see the Brooklyn Army Terminal where Elvis left for Germany, and hear about Brooklyn-born celebrities. For a touch of history, groups will hear about the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn and the history of pizza from Italy to America’s shores.
A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours also offers the Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour, which visits unique neighborhoods and landmarks not covered in the other tours.
Private and corporate tours are available, as well as step-on guides.•