I never went to Leonardo's Pizzeria on Court Street and First Street when it was there. I often passed by it and thought, "Probably a nice joint," but only went in once, for an espresso, because I recognized the coffee "bar" as similar to the kind I'd seen many times in Italy. Now I regret not going, because apparently, around Carroll Gardens, the owner is regarded as some sort of retired pizza master.
When Lucali, the praised pizza place on Henry Street, opened a year or so ago, it was widely reported that the owner, a pizza-making novice, tapped Leonardo for advice and equipment (including the place's espresso machine). Now, Jim McGown—the owner of the hotly anticipated South Brooklyn Pizza, on lower Court Street, and another pizza virgi—tells New York magazine that he also consulted with Leonardo about the art of pie.
Who is this Leonardo? For the proprietor of a pizzeria that barely lasted 20 years and almost never made the annual lists of the top pizza havens in NYC, he certainly made an impression on the pizzaiolo community. I can't even find out his last name. He supposedly still lives in the neighborhood. Couldn't even locate a photo of the place; the above shot is a picture of a Leonardo's pie, courtesy of Slice.
Trolling the internet, I've found a number of former patrons who thought Leonardo's was among the best brick oven pizza they had ever had. Almost everyone remembers the outside garden fondly; it's still there, as part of the Dunkin' Donuts that replaced Leonardo's.
Can anyone shed light on the Man, the Myth, the Master, Leonardo?