I have two boys and my sister has three, so when we plan trips together, the biggest challenge is finding things to do that are “boy friendly” enough for them, yet not too “boy centric” for us. And the “cool factor” is always a crucial consideration.
I’m not really sure how we first learned about A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, but thank goodness we did! All I had to say to the five boys (plus my brother-in-law) was that we were going to have pizza in Brooklyn, and they were good to go. No whining, no complaints, and no questions asked – definitely a first for our family.
At this point, I should explain that we are from California. That means we drive. All the time. And everywhere. So, the first order of business was getting everyone onto the subway to get from the hotel to the meeting place for the tour. Now, this could have easily gone horribly awry, but thankfully, the boys loved it, and taking the subway made the entire outing even more exciting and exotic. Chalk up one cool point for A Slice of Brooklyn.
Once the bus pulled up and we met Marc (the best guide on the planet as far as I’m concerned because he kept five boys enthralled for four hours), we learned that we would be visiting two very famous Brooklyn pizza spots. I could tell that my two teenaged sons immediately began worrying that they might not get enough pizza. But once Marc described the two types of pizza in detail – and more importantly the size of the slices – I saw them exchange looks that silently communicated, “We’re going to be okay.” They later admitted that they calculated the per-person slice count based on the knowledge that neither of their two 6-year-old cousins would be able to consume his full four-slice allotment. And with that, A Slice of Brooklyn scored another cool point.
Crossing the bridge to Brooklyn, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. This was shaping up to be the perfect family outing, and nobody had even eaten any pizza yet. As we made our way towards Grimaldi’s for our first pizza stop, Marc pointed out a building with a clock at the top. “Do you know who lives there?” he asked, “Jim Carrey.” My 12-year-old nephew looked at me and said, “That’s really cool.” But then Marc casually added, “Anne Hathaway lives there too, so The Riddler and Cat Woman are neighbors.” My nephew just whispered, “Wow.” At that moment, I started wondering if it would be excessive to take the tour on every remaining day of our vacation.
Grimaldi’s was just as great as we hoped. We sauntered right in (and, really, who doesn’t like to saunter into a place where other people have to wait in line?), and were almost immediately served the most delicious Neapolitan pizza Margherita I’d ever eaten (and I’ve been to Naples!) Within minutes, our two huge pizzas had vanished. The teens had been correct about their cousins, and happily devoured three slices each, which was yet another score for A Slice of Brooklyn…maybe even a two-pointer. I personally thought it was also very cool to watch pizzas being baked in the 900-degree coal-fired oven, and my older son must have agreed because he snapped so many photos that he was politely asked to stop.
While we drove through the different sections of Brooklyn, Marc pointed out some of the places where movies were filmed, and told us about the many famous people who grew up and/or lived there – including some of the less savory folks who were part of the mob. Even my young nephews who were not overly impressed with the earlier Jim Carrey point of interest, were riveted by the stories about who got whacked by whom, and why. It’s probably not the best thing that whacking was the topic of discussion for several days that followed, but at least it proved that they were paying attention.
When the bus pulled up to L&B Spumoni Gardens, my sister and I looked at each other and commented that we were still full from Grimaldi’s (which I’m sure was music to the teenagers’ ears), but much to their dismay, we weren’t going to skip the opportunity to try the famous Sicilian pizza that has made this a Brooklyn institution for over 70 years. The doughy square slices loaded with sauce and cheese at L&B could not have been more different from the crispy thin slices at Grimaldi’s, but they are equally delicious. I heard a rumor that L&B also has amazing spumoni, but by that time, we really were too full to eat another bite – Yes, even the teens.
At the end of the tour, we had five happy boys with full stomachs, which we have determined through experience is the true test of a successful family outing – the three happy adults was just an added bonus.
Samantha Davis-Friedman is a California-based contributing writer for TravelAge West and Family Getaways magazines and LA Splash. As the mother of two teenagers, Samantha has a particular affinity for writing about family travel and theme parks. But, as a foodie, she also loves writing about her many food-related travel adventures. Samantha enjoys photography and is forever thankful for the great photo ops her travels provide.