Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: Grimaldi's Pizzeria

About five years ago, before this blog, I visited Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.  I had called to order a pie for takeout, and I rushed in to pick it up as my car was illegally parked outside. I was instantly struck by the happy and bustling atmosphere, and I instantly regretted that I didn't have a dine-in opportunity. Anyhow, we scooped up our pie and made tracks for Dyker Heights.
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As I recall, this was a wonderful pizza. Big and puffy and charred, but not as soft as a Neapolitan pie. Real crunch and chew underneath, and beautifully balanced with the sauce, cheese, and meat toppings.  Regrettably, I haven't made it back there. But on a trip to San Antonio, I had a chance to sample the franchise version of Grimaldi's. There are now about 45 locations across America, with quite a few in Texas.

Both San Antonio locations are housed within huge upscale strip malls, featuring some other appealing if somewhat generic dining choices. This Alamo Heights location had a pleasant vibe, other than the absurd parking space shortage. I arrived at 6pm on a warm spring Friday evening, but there were still open tables. I chose a spot at the bar.

I ordered an $8 spinach salad as a starter. This came out as a huge bowl of fresh spinach leaves, tomato, and onion with a nice robust dressing and gobs of both bacon crumbles and bleu cheese. It lived up to the name "appetizer." Then I awaited my $14 personal sized pie with fresh Italian sausage.

The pizza arrived soon after. While it had notable eye appeal, it seemed less puffy than the pizza we had in Brooklyn five years earlier.  It was cut into six medium-small slices. The crust did have some crunch underneath, but it was not a rigid base. The sauce was bright, lively, and seemed to have all the qualities of the NY original.  The fresh mozzarella was applied in appropriately moderate measure, and all the ingredients played well together.

While the crust was clearly a second cousin to the NYC version, it nonetheless had very good texture and a distinct flavor that made the cornicione a treat. This chain pizza was clearly superior to the acclaimed pie from Dough Pizzeria Napoletana that I had enjoyed earlier the same day.

Grimaldi's is succeeding in bringing high-quality New York pizza to the rest of America. If this trend keeps up, I may stop being surprised when a chain can deliver a meal worth the calories. This is Grade A pizza, even if a small step down from the NYC A+ original version.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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