John Brescio, Owner of Lombardi’s, America’s "First Pizza" (New York City)
Do you know if pepper flakes were served at Lombardi's when it first opened, or when they started being offered there? They have been around since the beginning. We have always used them. In the beginning they were crumbled in a stainless steel bowl. And then there was a changeover in the '50s to pepper flakes in the shakers.
Do you use red pepper flakes on your pizza? No, I don't. I am a pizza purist. They take away from the pizza flavor and would make it harder, if not impossible, to taste the cheese and sauce. It actually became big in the '50s when flakes in the shaker became a blended, less expensive, milder option to the hand crushed version, during the early years of the pizza revolution in the United States. It gave a kick to an otherwise dull plain cheese pizza slice and was a standard on the counter of all pizza shops.