After fighting through downtown Brooklyn traffic, you may have had the unfortunate conquest of finding a line the length of your small intestine, outside of Grimaldi's Pizzeria. As you hang your head and gaze up at the massive Brooklyn Bridge (while salivating for one of the best pizzas in the city), you tell yourself that next time you'll be the first in line, at 11:30am, when they open! The rash pizza breakfast, however, is not necessary.
On a recent, bitterly Siberian weekday night I decided to venture out to the ends of Brooklyn, in hopes of finding no ridiculous line for my [detrimentally too often] pizza craving. Upon arrival, which was accompanied by a suspiciously easily attained, super close parking space, I breathed a sigh of relief to find myself waived in by a friendly server. "Please sit anywhere in the middle section," he suggested, as I found myself in awe of the 4...no, 5 empty tables, in the classically packed eatery.
Having never been able to eat inside this raved about pizza haven (due to the afore mentioned setbacks), I had a good feeling about the simplicity of the restaurant. Red, checkered table cloths lined ~30 or so tables with simple wooden chairs; photos of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Marlon Brando plastered on every inch of wall space; and an exposed kitchen, spilling with eager, brunette, male servers, ready to make your pizza dreams come true. The simple menu featured: antipasto, calzone, red or white pizza (small/large), toppings, desserts, and beverages. Due to its popularity, Grimaldi's can demand almost any price they deem appropriate for their famous pies-making your outing (comparatively) a semi-high-end, doughy event.
After perusing the menu and various neighboring tables' choices (of red wine, beer, olives, and salad), I went straight for the goods: a large with ham and mushrooms. The monstrosity, which was brought out in approximately 5 minutes, deliciously loomed over my table (on a pizza stand) with imposingly sweet aromas. The famous, coal fired brick oven truly makes this pie-o-heaven. The bubbly, fresh, white mozzarella, puffed up on the edges, ready to burst with flavor. The sauce, composed of lightly and flawlessly seasoned fresh, aromatic tomatoes, is a perfectly sweet balance with the few pieces of fresh baked basil (for which you should set yourself back a buck and order an extra topping of). The toppings, simple and fresh...and last but most important...the crust. Although (per tradition), made with white flour (I prefer whole wheat), this savory dough is the opposite of bland. The seasoning has [I'm sure] been perfected to a science and is impeccably appropriate. At times you might find yourself with black fingers (that is to say that you eat your pizza with fingers and not the provided utensils, which you may or may not quickly abandon after the initial few bites) from the coal burning oven, which ads an incredible sweet-smokey flavor to the dish.
As I savored each bite, the description that remained prominent was freshness. The consumption of fresh aromas, simultaneously with taste makes for an amazingly delicious meal. The flavors of this outing quickly revived my memories of Italy's plethora of culinary flair. The many tiny local cafes, with hand made mozzarella, fresh herbs, and just baked doughs...oh yeah, and where's the leather bag I bought in the middle of that piazza...? All this is not to proclaim Grimaldi's as the one and only, yet to simply to acknowledge the combination of skill and value of fresh ingredients-which breed an extraordinary following and hard-to-resist pizza!
As I dished out the $25 (cash only) for the feast, I was amazed at the timing. While only arriving ~40 minutes earlier, I was waiving goodbye [and freezing once more] by 10:45pm! Unforeseen conclusion: if you are a local, craving a delicious, pizza, at approximately 10:00pm, on a weekday evening, in the middle of winter...YES! A ~40 minute freshness pie awaits you at Grimaldi's!
Grimaldi's-19 Old Fulton Street-Brooklyn, NY