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Gennaro Lombardi was an Italian immigrant who moved to the US in 1897. He opened a small grocery store in New York City's Little Italy. An employee of hers, Antonio Totonno Pero, also an Italian immigrant, began making pizza for the store to sell. Their pizza became so popular that Lombardi opened the first US pizzeria in 1905, naming it simply Lombardi's.
Although Lombardi was influenced by the pies of Naples, he was left with no choice but to adapt pizza to America. The wood-fired ovens and mozzarella di bufala were substituted with coal powered ovens and fior di latte, and so began the evolution of the American Pie. In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi's and followed the expanding New York City Subway lines to Coney Island, where he opened Totonno's.
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