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Advice about Grimaldi's

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I just moved here last month, and I'm having my first guests from home this week. My friend and her boyfriend are staying with her aunt in Manhattan, but they really want good New York pizza. I've read all over the place that Grimaldi's is one of the best, so my boyfriend and I went last weekend to see if it really is that good. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We felt like the pizza was a good value, and the atmosphere appropriate. We also thought it was just delicious, so I'd like to take my guests there. It seems like as good a place as any, and since I already know I like it, I know they won't be disappointed. I am hoping to take them there for lunch on Thursday. Does anyone know what the wait will be like at that time? I'm trying to plan the rest of the day, and I am having trouble knowing how much time to allow. On Saturday night, we arrived in the line at 5:30 and left the restaurant at around 7:30. Should I allow that much time, or will it be quicker during the week at lunchtime?

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Should be a little quicker during the week at lunch, in my experience. You can probably get in and out in an hour (I'm imagining about a 10 minute wait), but I'd leave an hour and a half just to be sure. Obviously, if you can skew to be there a little before or after, the wait will be shorter.

    Remember to get some cannoli.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ratatosk

      I had wondered if the cannoli was good. I guess it is?

      1. re: alysonlaurel

        Not the best in Brooklyn, but yes, I think it's quite good. I might even say, better than any I've had in Manhattan. A cannoli and an espresso is a great way to end a meal there; even though it's right by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, I usually go for the cannoli.

        1. re: ratatosk

          So where is the best cannoli in Brooklyn? My brother-in-law will need that information when he and my sister come for Christmas. :)

          1. re: alysonlaurel

            I'm no expert but always loved the minis at Fortunatos in Williamsburg. And the atmosphere is pretty classic brooklyn italian.

            1. re: alysonlaurel

              For my money the best cannoli in Brooklyn can be had at Monteleone & Cammareri's on Court Street between Union and President in Carroll Gardens. Other CHers will recommend places deeper in Brooklyn (Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and environs) but in this case, proximity wins out for me.

      2. I went there right at opening at the beginning of the summer. There was a line of about 20 people, which wasn't bad. Mostly locals and business-types trying to get a jump on the tourist rush. The problem was that they took a while to fire up the oven and get the orders going. I'd say it was ten minutes between out order and the first sounds of pounding dough. Then at least another 20 minutes to get our pie. So don't think that getting there early is necessarily going to get you in and out quicker. I've had good luck in the late afternoons- like between 3 and 5.

        1. Drove by today around 2:30 and noted that there was no line outside at all.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JonL

            See, that's service. Chowhounds not only give you their valuable opinions, but they are mobile reporters as well. ; )

            1. re: bhill

              Yeah that was pretty amazing!

          2. I agree with other posters that the lunchtime wait is not as bad as dinner. They open at 11:30 a.m., so if you get there early (between 11:30 and 12:00) you you won't have to wait at all.

            If you're still hungry after Grimaldi's, don't forget to walk down to the Brooklyn Ice Cream place on the pier there. The ice cream is great, and you'll have a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge, East River, lower Manhattan, etc. Have fun!

            1 Reply
            1. re: parkslopemama

              I think we'll get there just after twelve, so we'll be fine. I'm so glad everyone has been so helpful with the replies.

              I need to check out this Brooklyn Ice Cream. I was also thinking of taking them to that gelato place in SoHo with the silly name.

            2. Yes, Grimaldi's is wonderful! However, another choice, which I think is very good as well, is John's pizzeria on Bleecker Street. A tad more predictable in terms of seating, and a lot more elbow room. It is brick oven pizza too.

              13 Replies
              1. re: genie in a bottle

                I need to get there. My boyfriend and I will probably go on our own next weekend. I just wanted to take them somewhere I'd already been so there'd be no surprises. Thanks for the tip on more pizza, though. We're really digging all this NY pizza. Now we know what the fuss is about.

                1. re: alysonlaurel

                  The only thing brick about Grimaldi's is the dryness of their pizza. It's just overrated tourist food. John's is exactly the same. Just got to di Fara or anything. Just not Grimaldi's. Maybe John's would be better than Grimaldi's, but I'd rather eat microwavable pizza than go to Grimaldi's. Hell, the pizza I make at home comes out better than Grimaldi's. Just go to di Fara. Even Tottonno's is worlds better than Grimaldi's and their standards have been falling hard over the last few years. Hell, I'd rather have L&B at 2am than Grimaldi's and I'm not a massive L&B fan.

                  1. re: JFores

                    I guess we got lucky, but we went last weekend and had three perfectly cooked, flavorful pizzas in almost no time, with friendly, attentive service. I haven't had a chance to check out all the pizza places here, so when our friends invited us to Grimaldi's and told us that they liked it, we figured it was worth a shot. I hope my guests like it, too.

                  2. re: alysonlaurel

                    Thanks, JFores...I was wondering what alternate universe are were living in where all of outer borough chowhound-dom allows recommendations for Grimaldi's and John's Pizzeria go unpunished?

                    1. re: PAL

                      I don't know why everyone has been so negative about Grimaldi's on this board. I'm a native Brooklynite that's been eating there for years and it hasn't changed, except for the name. Yes, DiFara's is heavenly, Totonno's is surly, and there is mediocre pizza everywhere, but I still think Grimaldi's is good. I haven't been to John's in 20 years so I don't know about them.

                      With 3 kids its a favorite because it is CHEAP, compared to eating decent burgers.

                      My only complaint about Grimaldi's over the years was that the beer was never cold enough, but they must have bought a new cooler because that hasn't been the case lately.

                      1. re: zacfi

                        Yeah, I'm not clear on the badmouthing of Grimaldi's. We went on Thursday, and had more perfectly cooked pizzas and prompt, friendly service. Perhaps it's just very well-suited to our tastes, but I just can't see how it's inedible, as a lot of posters imply. It's like I was telling my guests, I would believe that it has gone downhill, since I only started eating there two weeks ago. So it's possible that there was once better pizza. But the pizza that is still there is still incredibly good. We were happy with it.

                        And, just for anyone's information, we got there around 12:30 and waited just a few minutes for someone to clear a table. The pizza arrived about twenty minutes after we placed our order.

                        1. re: alysonlaurel

                          Great. Glad it went well for you. You are seeing one of the problems with forums like this---people need to answer questions that weren't asked. You did not ask about the advisability of going to Grimaldis. You clearly stated your satisfaction with them. So people felt the need to step in and rehabilitate you.
                          Yes, Grimaldi's used to be sublime. I enjoyed their pies around 15 years ago. Outstanding. But after ownership changes they lost their specialness (IMHO). I was especially bummed a couple of years ago because I brought some people there who were well versed in New Haven pizza. I told them that this was almost comparable. Grimaldi's embarrassed me badly that day. BUT.....I have never had anything that was not ok. Special, no. But certainly nothing awful. It has been reported here that careful ordering and specific requests for a well done pie can result in something resembling the glory days.

                          1. re: alysonlaurel

                            I don't like the way they do their pizza at all, I don't like their employees, I don't like the crowds, etc. They're just a stuck up little tourist dive. The pizza is slightly above the average street slice. If you just look at it in pure pizza terms, they overcook the hell out of about half their pies. They're surviving off hype and a brick oven, both of which are being pushed too far. Their pizza is OK, but I'd prefer quite a few normal slice joints like San Marco's in Williamsburg by WORLDS over Grimaldi's. San Marco's makes a very good classic NYC style slice/pie (sold by the pie though.) I took a group of Italians to Grimaldis because it was close and we just walked the Brooklyn Bridge and I was abused about NYC pizza until I took them to di Fara and shut all of them up.

                            1. re: alysonlaurel

                              We're trying to snap you out of it. Because your one good time notwithstanding, my experience and those of many others on this site suggest the odds are against a repeat performance.

                              I've been to Grimaldi's, too, and was shocked by the mediocre pizza and rude service. I want to save your guests from that kind of disappointment -- and you from the embarrassment. There are so many better places to take guests -- Arturo's, Patsy's, Lombardi's, John's etc. The last two aren't even among my favorite pizza places in NYC, but I'd take people to them over Grimaldi's in a heartbeat.

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                The crowds at John's are insane during their busy hours. As far as groups go, di Fara is a pain because you have to stand at the counter the whole time while your friends chat about how long it's taking. Lombardi's has really awful pizza though. Patsy's would be a good group option, if di Fara involves too much waiting. God, I miss Dom. Living in London sucks.

                                1. re: JFores

                                  Yes, I think DiFara is too far and too chaotic to take guests. When I lived in NYC, my go-to place for guests was Arturo's, which is centrally located, uses a coal oven, and has great atmosphere.

                                2. re: alysonlaurel

                                  Good grief! I didn't tell you your opinion was wrong or that your taste buds weren't as good as mine. I said simply that you got lucky with your good experience and that the odds are against a repeat performance. Now let's stick with rating the chow, rather than the chowhound, shall we?

                              2. re: zacfi

                                it sure has changed. different cheese, sausage and a rotating grp of lousy pizza makers. when it first opened the pizza was great bec patsy was making the pies and the ingredients were top notch. the only thing left is the oven.

                        2. My advice is to go somewhere else. IMO, Grimaldi's went downhill long ago.

                          1. Here is a good piece of advice . Do not go. Ever since the Bamote family took this place over . Way down hill . I MISS PASTY G

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: FAL

                              I just discovered Chowhound and have become addicted to reading the boards over the last few days. Grimaldi's has become a must-do every time I go back home to NYC. I took my wife there once and she says it's the best pizza she has ever eaten. Now we go back at least once a year.

                              1. re: xnumberoneson

                                Nice to see a little perspective. Putting aside (for the nonce) all the issues about whether it is now what it once was, or whether it deserves to be listed amongst the elite of NYC's pizzerias, I contend that there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that this pizza is of a quality attained with vanishingly small frequency outside of a few places in the country. Yeah, there's that one place in Arizona, just to mess up any sweeping generalizations about the seaboards. And sure, if you like sourdough, the Cheeseboard is pretty good. And there's that whole question about Chicago style pizza, and whether Chicago and surrounding locales have any good thin crust pizza. But how many of the 50 states, say, have pizza better than Grimaldi's? I bet you can count the number on one hand. Certainly we're talking single digits. Even the most venomous Grimaldi-haters have to give me that.

                                Personally, I think Grimaldi's turns out a very respectable pie. The sauce isn't the least bit sugary, it has the right flavor, and there's about the right amount of it. The cheese is of reasonably high quality, but not so fancy that it melts into a pool of butter when you show a flame to it. The crust can be a little soggy, but when they manage to cook it long enough it has a pretty good chew to it, and it's got that nice coal-smoke flavor. I'll take a Grimaldi's pie over a pie from John's, Lombardi's, or Arturo's any day of the week.

                                1. re: ratatosk

                                  Exactly. For a small-town Pennsylvania girl like my wife, a coal oven pizza made with fresh mozzarella is a revelation. It's just not a flavor you can find where we live. I've taken her to John's and Lombardi's as well, but she insists on Grimaldi's at least once a year. I never once went to Grimaldi's when I lived in NYC. I grew up on Singa's in Elmhurst.

                                  1. re: ratatosk

                                    I can't stomach it and if you've had brick oven in Italy then Grimaldi's becomes even more of a joke. I grew up on di Fara's on that's just how it is for me. I prefer Dom's pizza to anything I've had in Naples, every major city in Sicily, Rome, Genoa, etc too.

                                    1. re: JFores

                                      Had a couple of pizzas in Naples last year with incredible dough that topped Doms, but I have to agree that the overall deliciousness of his pies is greater - his pies arent a light experience, however.

                                      Grimaldis is a travesty of an italian pie. They manage to replicate the flaws of brick oven italian pies (undercooked wet pies, dry overcooked pies) - without any of the positives. Anyone who rememers how it was could never tolerate it now.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        Yeeees! They don't know how to use their oven! That's the biggest issue (besides the 3 mile lines and rabid door staff.) I've had dough that I would prefer in Naples and in Sicily, but I've never had a pie that I enjoyed more. I don't like toppings and I basically never order toppings; so his mix of cheese, sauce, etc is just amazing for what I want.

                                        1. re: JFores

                                          Blah blah blah. People on this board who spew vitriol on solid local places always end up citing their European (or Thai, or Japanese, or Mongolian) travel credentials as a way of substantiating their overblown attacks: "Per Se stinks - I had MUCH better goulash in a troll's hut under a bridge in Kazakhstan!"

                                          Grimaldi's isn't perfect - they're inconsistent (as if anyplace isn't), and their thin crust gets sogged out if you try to pile on too many toppings (I always go for pepperoni and sundried tomato, which imparts minimal moisture) - but I agree with ratatosk. You can walk into Grimaldi's any day of the week, spend $15, and get pizza that's better than anything you'll find almost anywhere else in the continental U.S. So why bash it?

                                          The couple of pizzas I've had from DiFara's were, for whatever reason, unremarkable. Am I qualified to call the place overrated? Absolutely not - and why would I want to? Tons of folks think it's the best pizza in the city, and I'm inclined to think I just hit Dom on a couple of off days (which, by the way, ALL chefs have). In any case, I don't see how it would make my life any better to seek out the posts of people who love DiFara's and then shout at them about how I had better pizza in Rome (I did).

                                          The most exquisite pizza I've had in NY was at Franny's, about five months after they opened, after they got the kinks ironed out but while they were still new and eager to please. I haven't been in awhile so I don't know if they've kept up their standards.

                                          But I've also had some amazing pies at Grimaldi's (and quite a few that were just "good"). I certainly wouldn't steer anyone away. Anyone who says he'd rather eat microwave pizza... well, I wouldn't take that recommendation.

                                          1. re: GDSwamp

                                            I appreciate what GDSwamp has to say about Grimaldi's in relation to the rest of the country. To a certain extent, he has a point. For the most part, American pizza (with exeptions of course) is not good. Try getting a pie outside of a major city anywhere. So that makes Grimaldi's look pretty good. But that is like winning the prize for the best ham sandwhich in a Chassidic neighborhood, or being the smartest person in the 'special' school. Let's face it. There is what's out there, and there is what CAN BE possible. I personally think that Di Fara's can hint at what pizza can be. Dom isn't perfect. He has very off days, and his place is a mess. But he is the best we have. Patsy Grimaldi was just as good as Dom is. He made a bad decision and sold the place to a bunch of schisters. Let's face it, compared to what can be, their pies are often undercooked, doughy, slapped together fiascos that have neither love nor craft. Certainly not the art which guys like Dom and Patsy can produce. So are we going to laud the best crap in the dump or hold NYC to a higther standard. Clueless tourists are one thing, but WE KNOW BETTER (those of us who have been around anyway). Thus I take GDSwamp's remarks with a grain of sea salt.

                                            1. re: NYJewboy

                                              i agree w. the nyjewboy. patsy made sublime pies in the early nineties and the joint is a shell of what it once was.

                              2. After months of planning a trip to NYC and reading many posts on Chowhound, I picked Grimaldi's for my pizza meal. What a mistake!!! Ordered my usual pep, mushroom, sausage and cheese pizza. I have learned to enjoy "bendable" pizza while in NYC, however our pizza was very wet, lots of watery sauce standing in the middle. The outer 3 inches of crust was passable and tasted like a brick oven pizza. You could peel off the slices of cheese, the whole thing was gross. I enjoy the street cart pizza much better.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: seethemoon

                                  Exactly.

                                2. you should give Lucali in Carroll Gardens a try (if it has reopened) for a much better grade of pizza in the area.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    I'll check Lucali's out i they're reopened when I get back to the States in December.

                                    1. re: JFores

                                      Lucali's should be open by then. Last week's sign said that they would reopen today, but I don't know if that actually happened.

                                      1. re: bobjbkln

                                        Show everyone a much better time -- skip Grimaldi's and head over to Lucali. Having had both a dozen times, it's far superior in every single way.

                                  2. Two words. Don't go.

                                    1. Hi my experience at Grimaldi's was not positive. The Pizza was just ok, DiFara's beats them by a long shot. Chewy crust, not too much flavor in the sauce, bland cheese. Atmosphere is great though with nice service, but this pizza is absolutely nothing special!

                                      1. The line for the past 3 days has been almost a block long. Why does this persist? C'mon and argue!

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: NYJewboy

                                          I think it persists because of the crazy tourist season that is going on right now in the city. In the short time I've lived here I've learned to be at least mildly irritated by them. I realize tourism is a huge part of NYC's economy, and I'm happy for that, but I want to give seminars on how to properly exit a subway station.

                                          1. re: alysonlaurel

                                            Or how to swipe a Metrocard! I don't know how many times I've missed a 6 train that was right in front of me because a family of tourists (using the only entrance at this part of the station) could not swipe a Metrocard to save their lives. I actually do it for people when this occurs.

                                            Oh pizza.

                                            It's interesting that their lines are so insane right now. Di Fara's day time lines have been sparce. I went three times since I got back to Brooklyn (basically once a week) and I've gotten my pies in under 20 mins each time. Wednesdays though. Try that at Grimaldi's. For all the complaints that waiting at Di Fara gets, it's frequently faster than Grimaldi's.

                                            1. re: JFores

                                              Yeah, I really want to everyone to know about proper Metrocard procedure.

                                              I really should try DiFara's. Lately we've been doing a lot of taste-testing different Thai places, which is fun. But now I'm ready for the great pizza hunt again.

                                              1. re: alysonlaurel

                                                Elmhurst Thai I'd hope! Your search can start and end with that nabe.

                                                Yeah Di Fara is pretty great. I'm doing my Wednesday run of the week tomorrow. Yummy.

                                                To continue the current theme, if I hear the words "Brooklyn, isn't that like.. dangerous?" one more time I will scream.

                                                1. re: JFores

                                                  I know! They always say that right before they get to my tree-lined street of brownstones in Park Slope. And some even think the TRAIN is dangerous. It's shocking, really, that a city that seems to be at the top of everyone's cultural knowledge has so many misconceptions swirling around it.

                                                  So what IS your favorite pizza in the city?

                                                  1. re: alysonlaurel

                                                    Di Fara by quite a bit. Queens has some good spots, Patsy's uptown can still be excellent if you're lucky, but Di Fara is just the best. L&B and Totonno's both bring their own style, though the latter is downhilling and the former is more of a late night spot.

                                                    Brilliant. And taxis. I love how families shell out 60 dollars to go from Times Square to Chinatown in over an hour of traffic. N train much?

                                                    I finally got myself two cool tourists though! I walked them all over Bed Stuy getting Jamaican food and other things like that.

                                                    1. re: JFores

                                                      Thanks for the tips. I'll definitely have to try DiFara. Do you happen to know any places in Park Slope that you'd recommend for a quick slice?

                                                      Yeah, the taxis seem to captivate everyone, but hardly anyone who visits understands how to truly use them. We only use them late at night coming from the city into Brooklyn, and then only for a treat. Some friends of mine visited over the summer right before I moved here, and they were warning me about how the trains take SO long to get anywhere. Are they kidding? They'd rather sit in traffic? Nowadays I assume that anyone in a car is a tourist learning to hate NYC more and more by the minute.

                                                      I have learned that I don't hate the Brooklyn prejudice so much, though, because their lack of presence here leads to lower prices and fewer crowds in my little neighborhood. As much as I love the East Village, the West Village, and Chinatown, I wouldn't want to live there in the middle of everyone's vacations. The Lower East Side, on the other hand, is the neighborhood I secretly covet. Pastrami, bars, and live music all in one place? It's hard to beat.

                                                      1. re: alysonlaurel

                                                        For a quick slice or a pie delivery in the Slope, my vote goes to the grandpa pizza at Pino's La Forchetta on 7th Ave. between 1st and 2nd (or is it 2nd or 3rd). Head and shoulders above the other slice joints in a 15 block radius.

                                                        1. re: alysonlaurel

                                                          I haven't been in a taxi since I don't even know how long. It was definitely when I lived in the city though. I was 4 when I lived in the city.

                                                          The trains here are lightning fast. Go to London. The tube is worse than garbage.

                                                          Lucali's is quite close to you if you regard Carroll as being close. Then again if it's a quick slice I don't know. I generally only eat pizza at Di Fara and I'm only here twice a year now (damn you university and London.)

                                                          The Brooklyn prejudice can be good. It also leads to funny things in Europe like "Wait, have you ever been shot at?" "Oh yeah, loads of times... there was this one time when three kids..." So gullible.

                                                          I love the Lower East Side, but I can't live there. I can't live anywhere but Brooklyn or Jackson Heights. Maybe Sunnyside too.

                                            2. re: NYJewboy

                                              It's like the Carnegie Deli. Entire lines of people from out of town with not a New Yorker and definitely not a Brooklynite among them.

                                              1. re: JFores

                                                One of these days JFores I am going to buy you a slice.

                                                1. re: NYJewboy

                                                  Haha you've got a week. Then I'm back to London and no pizza until the end of the summer unless I make it.