NEW YORK — It’s considered a New York City staple to take a tour of a, well, New York City staple.
Go on a Scott’s Pizza Tour, and you’ll get more than just some of New York’s finest. You’ll get a lesson in history, science and food culture, proving there’s more to it than just crust, sauce and cheese.
What You Need To Know
- Scott’s Pizza Tours, founded by Scott Wiener, offers multiple tour options in Manhattan and Brooklyn
- Wiener's collection of pizza paraphernalia is extensive, from the Guiness World Record pizza box collection, to his own book on the art of pizza boxes
- He also runs the nonprofit Slice Out Hunger, raising money for local hunger relief organizations
Amy Rothberger is a tour guide with Scott’s Pizza Tours. She knows how Grandma pizza got its name, that mozzarella can’t bake for too long without burning and that biting into a slice of pizza warmer than 170 degrees will burn your mouth.
“It’s a very fun job,” Rothberger said. “I really love people, I really love pizza, I really love New York City.”
Scott Wiener founded Scott’s Pizza Tours 13 years ago. It’s safe to say his world revolves around pizza.
“It’s no exaggeration to say, if I’m awake, there’s something with pizza going on in my life,” Wiener said.
As for how much pizza he eats? He said about six days a week — and has a 15-slice-per-week cap. His collection of pizza collectibles is impressive. It includes countless hats, books and everything in between.
“I actually have some of the old tables from Famous Original Ray's,” Wiener said. “I’ve had people send me things like pizza Lego kits, pizza Ninja Turtle play sets, a Monopoly board. Somebody sent me a pizza bicycle seat.”
Wiener also wrote his own book — on the art of pizza boxes, of course.
“I mean, people design these, people work on them, and they don’t get credit,” he said, flipping through his book.
Not to mention, he has a closet full of folded-down pizza boxes. And yes, he does hold the Guiness World Record.
“When I set the record, I had 595 boxes in 2013,” Wiener said. “But now I have 1,600 plus.”
Scott’s Pizza Tours started as a fluke.
“I started taking my friends on, not tours, 'crawls,'” he said. “And then on April 27, 2008, I launched my first tour, and I figured I’d just do it until I had to get a real job, and then this became the real job.”
It’s a real job, rooted in real passion.
“I remember my friend Mike asking me, ‘Do you think you’re going to start to hate pizza now that you’re going to make it your job?’ And I had no idea what the answer was going to be,” Wiener said. “And I can now say looking back, 13 some-odd years later, I like pizza more now.”
Wiener’s mission is to help others understand pizza more.
“It’s more about uncovering some of the spots that you haven’t heard about, or seeing them in a way that you haven’t considered before," he said.
Don’t worry — he and his tour guides do the investigative work for you, digging through marriage licenses, marriage certificates, census records and more, to piece together the stories behind the pizzerias, then spread the word.
“The only stories that get passed on about pizza are the ones that are being told by the existing pizzerias,” Wiener said. “And there’s so much more going on out there.”
As for his favorite pizza? Don’t bother asking.
“I think people unfairly try to criticize a pizza just based on the bite,” Wiener said. “And you can’t reduce a whole story, culture, science, history, down to a couple of bites of a slice of pizza. Understanding the context is the whole experience of the food.”
“Really what it all comes down to is, 'How do I feel when I’m eating it?'” he said. “And if you’re not feeling amazing when you’re eating a slice of pizza, then you’re in the wrong place.”
Scott’s offers several tours a weekend, year round, in Manhattan and Brooklyn.