HomeDestination FeaturesA Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour with ITTN & NYC Tourism + Conventions

A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour with ITTN & NYC Tourism + Conventions

ITTN’s Shane Cullen enjoyed A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour with owner and animated tour guide, Tony Muia, a proud native Brooklynite who is incredibly passionate about his hometown and it is infectious.

Family-owned and running since 2005, “A Slice of Brooklyn” Bus Tours is a leader in guided bus tours of Brooklyn’s favourite foods, landmarks, neighbourhoods and movie locations. Fabulous food (real New York pizza) is included and Tony or any of the company’s local guides will show off their neighbourhood.

They plan to charm you into loving Brooklyn and it works. I would come back to Brooklyn. It feeds into the New York City Tourism + Conventions matra of the five Boroughs of New York. Each time I return to NYC, I discover even more.

ITTN Interviews Tony Muia from A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

ITTN’s Shane Cullen interviews Tony Muia, founder of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

Tony, can you tell us a little bit about your Slice of Brooklyn Tour?

“I started a slice of Brooklyn in 2005, as a way to highlight Brooklyn’s favourite foods, neighbourhoods, landmarks and movie locations. Most importantly, I wanted our buses to leave from Manhattan.”

“In 2005, nobody’s taking a train to Brooklyn and so I wanted to make sure that we started in Manhattan. I want people to see that there’s an entirely different world across [from Manhattan] – a world that maybe has been part of their consciousness – in movies, TV shows, books, sports, food.”

A True Taste of Brooklyn

“And so the pizza tour we did today is a way to cover pizza in Brooklyn from one end to the other. So, there are two styles of pizza Neapolitan Thin Crust, the Sicilian Thicker Crust – the two best places in my opinion, at opposite ends of the Boroughs. In between, we get to do a really great tour of Brooklyn’s neighbourhoods as we’re travelling through landmarks, like Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge; and movie locations, like Saturday Night Fever and Goodfellas.”

“With our DVD program, we can actually show the movie clips on the screen. So if someone does or doesn’t remember the movie, they can still see where they are which, by the way, is one of my favourite parts of the tour. When I’m looking and I can tell someone’s having a good time as suddenly, now they’re in one of their favourite movies. Like now they’re in Saturday Night Fever. They’re in the French Connection. They’re like a kid on Christmas morning.”

“It’s really a way to realise that there’s an entire world to see. An iconic location, Brooklyn, a short ride away from Manhattan. I did it as a bus tour so we can cover as much as we can.” 

“I would always ask people at the end of this, okay, how many of you, just by show of hands and I’m a big boy, I can take it if you don’t raise hands… How many of you would actually come back and see Brooklyn again on your own and inevitably almost every hand goes up. It’s that introduction that I want for them to realise that they can come back.”

“At the same time, there’s nobody else doing what I do so you hope that the word spreads and then they come and they see in their having a great time.”

Origins of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

“My friends would always joke around that I was like this ambassador Brooklyn and I really love where I come from, love pizza, love movies and I just love the history that Brooklyn has and I want someone to feel when they take the tour, hopefully, within the first few minutes that they come to realise that I wanted to be like as if a friend is showing them around. And so that’s kind of how it came about. Anytime, all my guides have to be from Brooklyn.”

“I want you to experience what it’s like growing up from Brooklyn, being in Brooklyn, you know. And sometimes the history is gone and so the slide show helps show things – this is what was here. And you know, you’re doing this tour while the history of Brooklyn changes as well, but to me it’s a legendary place, you know the people that grew up here love it.”

“I like to think that the people that come and see it and do the tour fall in love with it. And I wanted just to create a sort of a unique experience that’s easy for people to jump on to experience and then go home with a new sense of wonder of this place that maybe has been a part of their psyche or their consciousness for a while and certainly is legendary.”

You also mentioned you do a Christmas Lights Tour?

“So we have a legendary location called Dyker Heights. It’s the Italian American section in Brooklyn. Since the 1980s you have to remember it’s an Italian Catholic neighbourhood so that’s the big holiday – Christmas, other than Easter, right?”

“And so, when I was a kid Brooklyn Heights, always decorated, what they do in Dyker Heights though, these are expensive homes, large homes, and they spare nothing to decorate them. Many of them do it themselves. Some of them now hire people to decorate for them. It could be in the upwards of thousands of dollars to decorate but to me and a city where, you know, our slogan for that one is Rockefeller Centre – Forget about it. Look, the tree is great and the stores are great but if you want to real homegrown sort of neighbourhood feel and now it’s become just as important and just as much of the rest of New York City’s Christmas experience.”

“NYC [Tourism + Conventions] promotes it. We’ve got a lot of Manhattan companies that only come Christmas time to do the tour but for me, it was a way of paying tribute to my friends and family who live in that neighbourhood who have been decorating since we were kids and so you know, parents who put their kids in their pyjamas and drive around Dyker Heights to see the lights.”

“And I thought, you know what, I love Christmas. There’s a lot of people that love Christmas. So when I started my tours, I had all these lists of tours that I wanted to do.”

“The pizza tour was first and that did that August 2005 until November and then it was dead in December and I spoke to Georgette from On Location who said, I forgot to tell you tourism drops here. The people come, but it’s mostly for Christmas. I’m like, I’ll be damned. Next year, I’ll be ready for it and it’s been an unbelievable hit when the rest of my business is hurting during the year, Shane, we’re doing two to three sold-out, 56-passenger buses a night for Christmas alone.”

“We want you to know the backstories”

“The way we do it is much like the tour today. We’re not just like here are the lights. Go look. We want you to know the backstories. We want you to know why people do it. Whether it’s in honour of loved ones, a religious devotion, you know, to see that it’s nativities as well.”

“As far as you know for Christmas, it’s one of the most known areas in the country now, and as I said, NYC Tourism + Conventions promotes it as well.”

“We go to Bay Ridge. We go to Dyker Heights. We also add Bensonhurst which is where I’m from because there is so many different types of homes and people doing things whether they’re lights times to an audio program that we play on the bus and it’s just amazing to see how they go all out. Honestly, I wish it was December all year long because the joy you see on people’s faces, whether they’re the kids or the adults, many times we’ll get three generations of one family on the bus – the grandparents, the parents and the kids.”

“There’s just something about it that brings out the kid and everyone and it’s festive and it’s fun. To us, it was always a part of Christmas in New York City. None of us went to Rockefeller Center unless it was a special occasion or a relative is visiting from Italy or something like that because, you know, it’s growing up in Brooklyn.”

“A lot of these homeowners, they do it for those reasons. As one woman who started named Lucy and she’ll tell you, I do this for the people who are underprivileged and can’t go to Manhattan to see Santa.”

“Now there’s people coming and taking their wedding photos there, proposing in front of these homes.”

“All the things that when we were growing up, was part of Christmas”

“We were the first company that started it… with us, it was more the experience… everybody gets a candy cane, there’s Christmas music on the bus., there’s old Christmas TV specials from the 1940s 50s and 60s – Frank Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Bing Crosby – all the things that when we were growing up, was part of Christmas, the TV specials, the music, you know.”

“Let us take you around like you were a friend or family.”

What to Expect Onboard

Experience a Brooklyn sightseeing tour and pizza-tasting adventure in one fun, hassle-free excursion from Manhattan. Enjoy the comforts of a climate-controlled bus while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and cruising through New York’s most populous borough. Brooklyn itself is one and a half times the size of Dublin with a population of 2.68 million (US Census Bureau).

See the DUMBO, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge neighbourhoods and landmarks such as Coney Island Boardwalk. Visit two revered Brooklyn pizzerias, all with the help of a guide and without having to brave the subway. Pass filming locations for Goodfellas, Annie Hall, the French Connection and Saturday Night Fever.

How to Book a Slice of Brooklyn

Book at Asliceofbrooklyn.com both The Original Brooklyn Pizza Tour (4.5 hours with prices from $95) and the Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights (3.5 hours with prices from $55).

Finally, did you know Bugs Bunny was from Brooklyn? I didn’t and love that I now know.

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Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

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