Muia knows where to find the best cannoli in Brooklyn. And the
second-best cannoli. If pressed, he'll offer an opinion on where to
find the traditional, ricotta cheese-stuffed pastry in Manhattan.
He can even talk about cannolis in Reggio, Italy.
But Muia's real food
expertise lies in the realm of Brooklyn pizza.
As the founder,
proprietor, operator and sole tour guide on the Slice of Brooklyn
Pizza Tour, he can, and does, wax lyrical about the perfect
Sicilian slice, which can be found at L&B Spumoni Gardens in
the Bensonhurst neighborhood, which is the second stop on Muia's
Slice of Brooklyn tour.
niche grows in Brooklyn
Brooklyn, the most
populated and, arguably, the second-most-famous borough of New
York, has been coming into its own lately as a tourist stop. Gray
Line, which runs the red double-decker tourist buses in Manhattan,
has a route into Brooklyn. Cruise ships now pick up passengers
But Muia's tour is
unusual in several ways. It's intimate, as the tour bus seats 21
people. It delves into neighborhoods not usually visited by
tourists or even some Brooklynites, such as Bath Beach, Coney
Island and Brighton Beach. And it's run by Muia, a chatty, tattooed
Brooklyn native in his early 40s who is as passionate about pizza
as he as about showing visitors around the borough.
fugettaboudit," he said to one couple, as the group got ready to
depart the tour rendezvous spot near Manhattan's Union Square.
"Anything about Brooklyn, I'm your man."
So 19 of us got on a
bus, said "fugettaboudit" to Manhattan and crossed the East River
It was an amazing
spring day. As it turned out, "amazing" was a word often employed
by Muia. The pizza we were going to eat,
for example, was "amazing, amazing pizza."
We stopped for
(seriously) amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn
Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park, before heading to Grimaldi's, one
of the most famous brick-oven, coal-fired pizzerias in all the five
There's usually a
line outside the door of people waiting to eat, but Muia had three
tables on reserve. We were ushered inside and within 10 minutes
were feasting on thin Margherita pizza, that is, pie topped with
tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella (pronounced "mutz" in
Grimaldi's, we were driven to the neighborhood of Bay Ridge, with
Muia cheerfully pointing out sights on the gritty waterfront along
Throughout the tour,
the views outside were complemented on the bus' video monitor by
clips from movies filmed in Brooklyn. Scenes from "The French
Connection," "Goodfellas" and "Annie Hall" were all timed to
coincide with the views passing by.
Literature, such as
the novel "Last Exit to Brooklyn," also played a role, as did
Brooklyn-themed music, like Frank Sinatra's "Brooklyn
We were distracted
from pockets of traffic and less-interesting scenery by the video
clips and Muia's energetic, entertaining talk about Brooklyn
history, pop culture influences and, of course, food.
Muia was born and
raised in Bensonhurst, known as Brooklyn's Little Italy. "I
basically say, if you've seen 'Saturday Night Fever,' you know
where I grew up," he said. "I've got two younger brothers, Vinnie
and Joey. You can't make this stuff up."
In addition to the
pizza tour, which operates Mondays and Fridays, Muia has started
doing private group tours, sans pizza, and was exploring other
For more information,
visit www.sliceofbrooklyn.com. For tickets, call (212)
209-3370. For information about group tours, contact Muia at (917)
contact Rebecca Tobin, managing editor of the print edition of
Travel Weekly, send e-mail to [email protected].