Props to the Times' Pete Wells and Jeff Gordinier for calling our attention to the post-Sandy plight of many classic New York eateries. They show what's so important about these restaurants, not just to our food culture, but to our long-standing communities.
Here at Serious Eats we've done the job we had to do in reporting on the devastation suffered by so many New York restaurants and purveyors in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but like so many others we didn't hone in on the places most profoundly affected who have been an integral part of the New York food fabric the longest.
In the last couple of weeks I've heard twice from Totonno's Lawrence Ciminieri about the plight of his beloved family-owned pizzeria, which to me is the Church of Serious PIzza in NYC. Located a mere block from the ocean in Coney Island, Totonno's suffered monumental damage in the storm. Its oversized walk-in behind the coal-burning oven toppled over, wreaking havoc and destruction everywhere. The wood floor was covered with four feet of water.
Just today, right before reading Pete's terrific post, we decided to do a story of our own on our beloved and important Totonno's, detailing the nature of the destruction and charting its rebuilding.
If Totonno's and others like it don't rebuild, Sandy will have succeeded in killing crucially important New York food institutions that are indeed irreplaceable. This wouldn't only be a loss for serious eaters and pizza lovers in New York: it would be a tragic loss for anyone who cares about our culturally significant institutions in general. We can't let that happen, and we won't.