Was this a pun on margherita pizza’s component ingredient?
As it happens, no. Felix instead is worried about getting stuck on a cramped coach with an over-cheery commentator.
But I’d done my research, totted up the tour’s five-star reviews, and so here we are, among 12 others in a smart black minibus whizzing through the streets of Chinatown towards one of New York’s most colourful suburbs.
Our guide on this Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour is Tony, whose nasal “fuh-getta-boud-it” Brooklyn accent matches a lovely line in quirky stories. Within minutes, Felix has swapped his headphones for appreciative smiles. “You guys,” Tony announces, “are gonna taste the very best pizza outside of Italy.”
We haven’t eaten breakfast, so this is welcome news. And I’m enjoying the unfamiliar streets of Brooklyn’s Dumbo area (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) – now a desirable neighbourhood for peace-seeking Manhattanites.
Small art galleries stand beside graffiti-splattered Latino cocktail shacks, and in between are lovely glimpses of the Brooklyn Bridge’s underbelly, where trains rumble above, and golden sunlight dapples the stonework.
This is where Al Pacino, playing a blind man, raced his sports car in Scent Of A Woman – Tony deftly flicking on the TV monitor to show the exact clip as we pass the bridge’s mammoth stone piers.
Film clips pattern this tour and make for a fun element.
Further into Brooklyn, we watch a young John Travolta strutting his pointy-shoed stuff along the streets of Bensonhurst – the borough’s original Little Italy – noting, as we gaze from the screen to the streets that many of the shops from Saturday Night Fever’s opening still exist.
But first, Grimaldi’s, a pizzeria housed in a pretty 19th century building beneath Brooklyn Bridge. Here, tables covered in red and white checked cloth surround a huge coal-fired brick oven.
The space is tiny and snaking street queues are a regular feature. Luckily we are early, and as we chat with our fellow diners, huge rounds of margherita pizza appear.
With their crisp smoky crusts coated in Sicilian imported tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, Felix and I agree they’re the best we’ve tasted.
So, too, thought Michelle Obama, whose photo taken outside Grimaldi’s hangs on the wall. Newly gentrified Bensonhurst follows, with Tony pointing out the golf course where Tiger Woods hit his first ball.
This was also New York City’s original mobland, home to five of the biggest Mafia…