No trip to New York City is complete without a couple slices of some of the best pizza in the country. Recently, Angela and I were fortunate to have what just might be THE best pizza in the country- maybe an hour outside of NYC- at Pepe's Apizza in New Haven, CT. Also, on our last trip into the Big Apple we were fortunate enough to taste Lombardi's. On this trip, with a 10:30 PM reservation at Le Bernardin in our foodie queue, we decided to tide over our hunger with a late pizza lunch. Wandering down beneath the Brooklyn Bridge we found Grimaldi's Pizzeria- another staple we'd heard a ton about and were eager to try.
If Grimaldi's is known for one thing more than its famous pizza, it would be its famous line. No matter what the time of day may be, you're likely to see a minimum of fifty patrons eagerly waiting to be invited inside. We'd only been waiting in the line several minutes before one man, in typical New Yorker fashion, walked by and shouted at the crowd, "A hundred bettah pizza joints in da city, and you guys wanna stand out here in some line? Yeah, enjoy ya'selves!" While it made me smile, I couldn't help but worry that the guy would be right.
Since we were willing to do take-out we were a little confused why we had to wait in the same line as everybody else (as the signs below explicitly states). While we waited for the slow-moving line to inch closer to the door, the man who kept coming out to seat people finally called, 'take-out'. Since nobody ahead of us raised their hands, we leap-frogged the masses in line ahead of us.
Once inside, we placed an order for two large pizzas, and headed back outside to wait until our order came up. About twenty minutes later, as the people who were originally behind us in line got called inside to be seated, Angela and I stopped gloating about having jumped ahead. About thirty minutes later, we finally inquired how much longer we'd have to wait for our pizzas. Several minutes more passed and finally our pizzas came out.
I can only imagine that these timing mishaps occur all the time considering the sheer volume of customers they satisfy daily. I don't really want to harp on it either, because I was surprised at how overwhelmingly helpful, informative and friendly the gentleman working the door was in handling the line. Often times, I feel like many tried-and-true staples feel like they're so good that they don't have to offer customer service. Some of the main Cheesesteak outposts in Philadelphia come to mind when I think about the times I've walked into a dining establishment and received unwarranted rudeness had my life threatened. Not so at Grimaldi's.
In no time at all we were back home and ready to tear into our pizzas (in moderation, mind you, lest we forget those looming dinner reservations). This is where the minor delay comes back into play. The pizzas tasted like they'd been sitting around for half an hour. We quickly suspected that they'd been misplaced or forgotten about while we waited back at the shop. Nevertheless, we were hungry and cold pizza is better than no pizza.
First off was the sausage pizza. All of their pizzas automatically come with fresh chopped tomato, basil and mozzarella. While there were some great notes of fennel in the sausage, I was left wishing there had been a little more meat. As you can see above, it's difficult to even spot the meat at all.
On the other hand, the pepperoni tasted fantastic and was clearly portioned more generously than the sausage.
Based on our experience, we were left wishing we'd just waited the line out and eaten inside. Certainly, that would've been the best way to ensure we were eating Grimaldi's best and freshest pies. So, how do you rate Grimaldi's? On one hand, had we eaten it fresh from the oven it may have been a different experience altogether. On yet another hand, how much do your expectations factor in? I've had more people recommend Grimaldi's than any other pizza in New York and the dozens and dozens of people waiting an hour just to get inside certainly speak to something.
In the end, I can say it was excellent pizza and much better than anything on the DC pizza scene. But, I can also say that I've had better pizza in New York City, New Haven and Chicago. While Grimaldi's is arguably still worth the wait, I can't say I disagree with the forthcoming gentleman who kindly advised us to seek out better pizza elsewhere. Wherever there's a line you'll find people who want to stand in it.