Checking Grimaldi’s off the List

I figured I should probably do my post about Grimaldi’s. The place always comes up in NYC pizza debates, and my step-mom was visiting so it was a good time to play tourist. (Turns out, it’s even one of Jonathan Safran Foer’s favorites!) But is there ever NOT a line?

Our wait was about thirty minutes outside, which was relatively short because it was a windy, cold day. As you can see from the outside, I assumed we were waiting because the place had, like, four tables. That, or the line was set up to make the place look more desirable, like a friend suggested about TopShop.

Once we were inside, I found out that the restaurant made the best use of its space as possible. The dining area was one giant room, connected to the “kitchen,” where you can see the pizzas being made and tossed into the coal brick ovens. The tables were right on top of each other, and the waiters had to crawl over chairs to deliver pizzas. My step-mom was a little startled by the lack of space, but obviously New Yorkers are used to it. The crowd seemed to be a decent mix of tourists and Brooklynites; since the wait for takeout involves the same line as for dining in, you might as well just eat inside.

After waiting outside for so long, I expected our pizzas to come quickly, but that didn’t happen. The place was just too packed, and the service left a little to be desired. See, the problem with popular places (with lines, especially) is that service is almost always sacrificed in order to get as many people helped as quickly as possible. So I spent a lot of time watching the workers make pizzas and the other patrons eating theirs.

I always find coal brick ovens exciting, and it was obvious that the ingredients were extremely fresh. The mozzarella looked to be homemade, and the dough sat in crates next to the cooking station. So for me, Grimaldi’s wasn’t particularly impressive or worth the wait when Patsy’s serves up the same stuff without the line (not to mention Piola’s unlimited gnocchi night). Still, good pizza is good pizza, and after waiting over an hour, I barely got in these pictures before the pies were gone:

By the time we got to dessert, our patience with our waiter was waning. He was kind of rude, very absent, and bad with my neverending water need. When I asked him to explain the desserts since my step-mom can’t eat chocolate (and, despite being Italian, I don’t know the difference between Tortoni and Tartufo, SORRY), his annoyance was obvious. I bet he doesn’t talk to Jonathan Safran Foer that way! In other words, I don’t know if I can be completely unbiased in my cannoli assessment given how I was feeling at that point in the meal. It was fine—nothing to write home about. (This saying is appropriate because I do indeed write home about good cannolis.) Just like the pizza, similar cannolis are everywhere. So you will not catch me waiting in that line again, especially when I can make something similar at home. [I would post a gratuitous picture of my own pizza but YOU GET THE POINT.]