One of the reasons we’ve tried to keep up with our Pizza Touring is for places like this. While we started with the places we’ve known all our lives in Stamford, branching out into the pizza bastions of the northeast has exposed us to the cultures of textbook New Haven, and now New York pizza pies.
Tucked away under the bridge in Brooklyn’s eclectic DUMBO neighborhood, Grimaldi’s is the quintessential New York pizzeria. Staking the claim to countless prizes bestowed by locals and foodies alike, Grimaldi’s is indisputably iconic and renowned throughout the country as one of the best pizzas you’ll ever have the privilege of eating. Or so we’re trying to confirm.
Establishment. As is the case with many local institutions, Grimaldi’s sports a sizable line that often stretches the length of Old Fulton Street as well as some little quirks (cash only, no slices, takeout line and eat-in line are the same) that everyone begrudgingly deals with. After waiting in the sun (a welcome departure from our usual waits in the cold winter night) for about an hour, we were ushered in, bouncer style, to a packed but deceptively comfortable dining room. Cafeteria-style seating fills the restaurant to the rafters, seating eight to a side in what can be described as a mildly roomy feeding trough. The darkened, close quarters atmosphere is reminiscent of just about everything else in the city (as is the abysmal parking) and, like any respectable big-name pizzeria, Grimaldi’s incorporates photographs of its famous patrons and Frank Sinatra into the decor. Our server was predictably terse and largely pragmatic, doing his damndest to dart from table to table in order to bring menus, take orders, drop checks, and usher a new party into the restaurant.
Pizza. The time we did spend in Grimaldi’s, however, was nothing short of divine. Our pie of choice was a classic Neapolitan topped with crumbled Italian sausage and fresh garlic, delivered steaming hot, no less than five (!!!) minutes after we ordered it.
The crust was an oven-blistered masterpiece, delicately thin with a huge, yeasty flavor and the bitter notes of a perfect coal oven char. The cheese was a beautifully fresh, sliced mozzarella that melted into stringy pools of delicate flavor. Slicing through the mildness of the cheese was a phenomenally well-seasoned, fresh and tangy tomato sauce with light notes of natural sweetness. Full leaves of fresh basil complemented the sauce nicely, giving the pie a brightness amidst its inherently strong flavors. The crumbled Italian sausage and fresh, crushed garlic that topped this pizza were very complementary as well, moderately portioned as not to overpower the pie but contributing a good deal of savory, salty notes and working to deepen the flavors of the sauce. Our only criticism—and we’re really reaching here—was with the pizza’s overall texture: it was super thin, especially in the center, and as a result, some slices were on the floppy side. That’s it. This was one good pizza.
The bottom line. If you can stand to wait in line for upwards of an hour and you don’t mind little establishment idiosyncrasies, this isn’t just one of the best pizzas you’ll find in New York, but one of the best you’ll find. Period.
Hits the Spot: 9.7/10
Large Cheese: $14.00