Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Be Prepared to Line up
DUMBO, 1 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY
There’s one thing you must know about Grimaldi’s: it’s a full day’s venture. There are long line ups, outside and inside the restaurant. Let me put it this way, we showed up on a sunny afternoon and by the time we left, the sun had long set, and it was pitch black outside.
Grimaldi’s is located right under the Brooklyn Bridge, that iconic arched bridge way that is always shown on Gossip Girl when the storyline transitions from the Upper East Side to hipster Brooklyn. The popular pizzeria has moved since the last time I’ve eaten there, Grimaldi’s is now housed right next door, still on Front Street in a larger more spacious brick building. You would think that would cut down the line ups, but don’t be fooled.
We saw the long queue of people at Grimaldi’s from across the street, at first, the line didn’t look too intimidating. We stood outside for 30 or 40 minutes and we were called in to the ‘indoor waiting room.’ I was picturing 1 or 2 other parties huddled in a lobby but instead we were led to a stairway where the line up had already started. The customers were lined up all the way up the narrow stairway. Just when I thought this line up was leading to an upstairs dining area, we were invited into a large theatre-like room where nearly 100 people were waiting for their table. We asked some of them how long they had been waiting and most people quoted that they’d been in that room for more than an hour.
Then again, Grimaldi’s waiting room system is somewhat shoddy. Basically, a grumpy old man wearing a frumpy sweater, beige pants with white sneakers takes down each party’s name, scrawling it on a yellow notepad. He leaves the room every 15 or 20 minutes to collect more people from the outside line, when he returns he calls out the next party’s name from his notepad. He doesn’t use a microphone, he doesn’t call out the name more than twice. More than one party had approached him to inquire about their turn only to find out that he had called their name hours ago; these people would leave immediately, swearing and shaking their fists. Seriously, who wants to wait for hours to not even get a pizza! When the other customers noticed this, an immediate quiet hush would blanket the room every time the grumpy old man stomped in to call out more names. Finally after just over an hour, our name was called and we couldn’t be happier.
We were seated near a picture of the old Grimaldi’s storefront. We ordered straight away, having read the menu a billion times while we were waiting in the upstairs waiting room, we were hungry and decisive about our pizza toppings. We went with anchovies (channeling our inner Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Italian sausage on one half and ham and mushroom on the other half.
While we waited for our pizza, I wandered to the front of the restaurant and watched the chefs toss pizza dough and quickly shove pizza after pizza into a fiery hot coal brick oven.
Soon, our own piping hot pizza hit the table and we dug in. Pizza is a staple food in New York City. Thin crust pizza that is, so thin and floppy that you have to be able to fold it over. At least that’s what I remember from that one episode of Sex and the City when Steve took Miranda out for pizza on a date. The pizza at Grimaldi’s was definitely thin enough to fold over but strong enough to hold a massive amount of toppings. I was pleased to find stretchy cheese and sweet and tangy tomato sauce on every slice. The pizza crust was thin and crispy and not at all soggy. I loved the chewy crust, almost reminiscent of Montreal bagels. I snagged the slice with the big giant cheese bubble on top.
There was a slight spicy kick to the Italian sausage and the anchovies were extremely salty. We were actually super thirsty by the end of the night. I have to say though that the pizza was totally worth the wait. Even though I picked the half with the ham and mushroom, I liked the anchovies and Italian sausage half much better, it hit every taste bud from salty anchovies to spicy sausage and finished with the sweet tomato sauce. The ham and mushroom was very mild in comparison. It’s hard to believe that such a thin crust pizza can pack so much flavour. Altogether, the two halves of our pizza were well balanced.
I would go to Grimaldi’s again but next time, I’ll pick a warmer day so we can grab some ice cream near waterfront without freezing our faces off.