You can learn a lot about how to make a great pizza while standing in line for the restroom at Grimaldi’s. The first thing you’ll notice is the enormous brick, coal-fired oven. The oven door opens every 30 seconds or so, revealing a huge pile of fiery coals off to the side and the pizza in the back. The temperatures are so hot in this oven that it only takes a few minutes to cook the pizza (reflect on that next time your pie takes 20 minutes or more at most pizza joints).
As you watch the employees assemble the pies, you might be struck by the fact that the pizzas aren’t overloaded with sauce or toppings (a la Round Table). They simply tear off pieces of mozzarella and place them around the pizza, sometimes as much as an inch a part. They do the same with the pepperoni, sausage or other choice toppings and then they simply drizzle (yes..that’s drizzle, not pour) the tomato sauce on top of the top of the pie and then finish it with a drizzle of olive oil.
The pie make look sparse as it goes in the oven, but I think the oven’s intense heat breaks everything down quickly, and the cheese, sauce and oil meld together while the pizza cooks. When you get the the finished pizza, there’s good sauce and cheese and topping coverage throughout the pie.
We ordered a large half margherita and half pepperoni and sausage pie, and it was great. The thin crust had a nice crispy char on the bottom toward the outside of the pizza, but was a little softer in the middle, which was nice, and it had a good “bite” to it. I liked the bits of sausage a lot and the pepperoni was the smaller, quarter-sized slices that I prefer. But I think the best component of the pie is the sauce. It had a really nice tang to it that went nicely with the cheese and toppings.
We got there fairly early (before noon), so the line wasn’t very long and waited about 10 minutes. Once you sit down and order, the pizzas arrive really quickly. The large pie (18-inch) was the perfect size for splitting with three people, and we walked off the meal with a leisurely stroll back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge.