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Jan 21, 2008 06:28 PM

Reviews: Grimaldi's, Jacques Torres Chocolate


Today is the 2nd time I've been to the famous Grimaldi's pizzeria. I got there by way of trying to make it first to Di Fara's, which was closed, and then to Franny's, which was also closed (I thought I had called ahead but I made a mistake), and then to L&B Spumoni, which for some weird reason Google Maps placed in downtown Brooklyn instead of in Bay Ridge. Finally my starved friend and I landed on the hospitable foothills of the Brooklyn Bridge and begged Father Grimaldi for mercy. And it was given us.

The pizza in this packed place is superb, my 2nd favorite after Di Fara's. We were lucky and did not face a line, perhaps because we arrived late. The place is super-cramped, but the prices are reasonable and the pizza is fantastic. We ordered a large, well-done pie with half mushrooms and peppers. The only problem with the pizza was that, as even Di Fara's slices are sometimes wont to be, a little soggy near the front edge of the slices. Other than that, though, the slices are simply addictive. The dough is fresh, chewy, warm, and slightly sweet. The sauce is sparingly ladled onto the dough, but the simple sweetness of the tomatoes peeks through, and whatever spice combination they use is just about perfection. The buffalo mozzarella has real flavor, unlike the mozzarella at many places, and the peppers and mushrooms were super-fresh and spoke of summer abundance and ripeness. They clearly were sauteed or cooked properly before being laid onto this pizza.

This is some great New York food. Just fantastic.

Jacques Torres:

Afterwards, my friend and I got absolutely gluttonous and decided to check out the nearby DUMBO edition of Jacques Torres' chocolate shop. We split a Wicked hot chocolate, which is a hot chocolate with a bit of a chili pepper kick, and JT's French Kiss cookies (essentially chocolate chunk, except that the chunks are a little flatter and spread out more through the cookie).

The hot chocolate was tasty, but, to my mind: 1) too thin, and 2) not sweet enough. The chocolate itself was good. For this kind of not-as-sweet, "more civilized" version of hot chocolate, I would prefer La Maison du Chocolat. Though to both I would easily prefer the Dessert Truck's more sinfully sweet beverage of the same kind.

The chocolate chip cookie -- excuse me, french kiss -- was tasty. Large, flat, a little crispy, dense, and with a high chocolate-to-flour ratio, this is a decadent, buttery cookie that has a solid consistency. It is dark and rich. Let's call it a very good cookie, though it did not have the transcendental quality of the very best, in my humble opinion.

Still, this is a worthy chocolate and pastry shop.

The Vegetarian New Yorker:

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  1. 1. Outer Boroughs
    2. Grimaldi's is pretty much crap. Dried outer bits, soup in the middle, badly made, no love, etc. I could talk negatively about it for hours.

    11 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Hrmm... just can't agree. I've had a lot of great or famous pizza in New York: Di Fara's, John's, Joe's, Una Pizza Napoletana, Naples 45, Maffei, Lazzarra's, Arturo's, Lombardi's, Patsy's, etc. I think Grimaldi stands up to the best. But of course that's just my opinion.

      1. re: shivohum

        Out of those I like Di Fara and I don't like any of the rest on that list. Patsy's used to be REALLY good, but it down hilled hard. Grimaldi's was great too. The first time I ever went there (I was yoooung) it was excellent. Then it died. Lucali's is a lot better than most of what you just named and the pizzas aren't the size of a small plate a la Una Nap.

        1. re: JFores

          Lucali's doesn't get enough press. We should mention it every chance we get, as it blows away everything except DiFara's. Grimaldi ship sank when Patsy sold the place about 7 years ago. He is so SORRY now, seeing what it has become (he once told me). I have given them chance after chance, and a couple of times have been surprised by something better than I expect (which is crap), but in the end the current incarnation of Grimaldi's even on the best of days is still overated tourist food. In other words: crap.

          1. re: NYJewboy

            Lucalli's is packed, every night, often with a two-hour wait. I think they get plenty of press :)

            Agree that it's the best pizza after DiFara and it's so much more of a pleasant dining experience.

            That said, I don't get all the hate about Grimaldi's. I agree it's nowhere near as good as Di Fara or Lucalli's, but their pizza still beats any corner slice joint, and because of its location, it's a great experience for tourists (from Manhattan and elsewhere) because they get a great view and pretty good pizza without having to travel too far from major tourist attractions.

            Besides, do you really want to encourage giant tour buses to drop people off at DiFara or Lucalli's? Yeesh. I'd cry if that happened.

            1. re: oolah

              Good point oolah. I wouldn't like it much either. The reason for the vitriol is that I live in the immediate neighborhood of Grimaldi's, and their line is a multiple-times-a-day assault on my senses. The tourists chant and scream (and I know that pizza is exciting). Oh well.

              1. re: oolah

                I dunno. San Marco's in Williamsburg is just an old school American slice (by the pie) place and I think it's far better than Grimaldi's. It also gets no coverage on here. It's nothing super special; just a really really solid American pie.

                1. re: JFores

                  Jacques Torres hot chocolate not thick enough? Maybe they changed it since the last time I had it but I buy it and cut it with milk because sometimes it is like pudding. Not sweet enough? Did you eat a piece of candy before you had it thus dulling the sweetness of the chocolate?

                  1. re: psnative

                    I've been getting the feeling that they milk that stuff down more and more as the years go by. I make it waaaay thicker at home using their same mix.

                    1. re: JFores

                      You might have to specify European style versus American style. I think that have that option. American being not so thick.

                2. re: oolah

                  Grimaldi's is also a great destination target for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, one of my favorite tourist activities. The 'za is probably also head and shoulders above any so-called "New York style" pizza in the home towns of the tourists being deposited there..

              2. re: JFores

                I went to Grimaldi's once with my sister several years ago. We ordered a 1/2 mushroom pie. The results? Disappointing. This was my first coal oven pie, and with those high temperatures I was expecting a crispy charred crust. What we were served was floppy and severely underdone, and some of the water from the fresh mozzarella had seeped out of the pie and made the crust soggy.

                I may give it another shot one day, but I'll likely spend my Brooklyn time going to DiFara, which after several visits has never disappointed with a fantastic crispy crust (in an electric oven, no less)

                Mr Taster

          2. I'm shocked. I went to JT several times for the hot chocolate and it's the thickest hot chocolate I ever had in the city that's still considered liquid. I have trouble finishing that little cup. The last time i went was several months ago.
            I hope they haven't watered it down (maybe that was just an inexperienced new hire?). The spicy one is my fav.
            And when I went I found the chocolate actually quite sweet, but again, I like my chocolate on the bittersweet end, and a bit spice added to it.

            5 Replies
            1. re: zorgclyde

              Very interesting to hear your experiences. To me, if you want really thick hot chocolate, try the stuff from City Bakery (which frankly I don't like that much) or the Dessert Truck (awesome). JT was not nearly as thick as either of these two.

              1. re: shivohum

                Dessert Truck or JT at home. If you make JT's at home properly, you can practically make hot chocolate pudding out of it.

                1. re: shivohum

                  where is the dessert truck?
                  I've tried city bakery, which you're right, is a bit thicker, but the quality isn't as good and it's overpriced, so I've blithely ignored it.

                  1. re: zorgclyde

                    Dessert truck is on 8th on the edge of Washington Square Park at night

                  2. re: shivohum

                    I believe City Bakery gets it's chocolate from Jacque Torres. Jacque supplies the majority of chocolate throughout the City, from what I understand.

                2. Grimaldi's is a tourist trap. Most overrated pizza in NY. I don't know of anyone who was born here who actually goes there.

                  L&B is sublime, but you won't find it if you come here to Bay Ridge. It's in Gravesend, which is a 15-20 minute drive from here.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Lincolngrrl

                    Wouldn't you say L&B is in Bensonhurst? I've lived here for like.... 15 years out of 18 in my life and that has always been Bensonhurst to us. Maybe it's an Italian thing, like many blacks will call Bushwick, Clinton Hill, etc Bed Stuy even though they're different areas.

                    L&B can be good, but its nothing amazing. It's where we went after events, parties, etc because it is always open. Always. The square is good, but its also viciously acidic. Not a place I would recc for amazing pizza, more like good late night eats for 12 people who grew up in the area or who were taking a B1 back from Brighton.

                    1. re: JFores

                      Been here for 27, and true, that area is a little gray. If you're going to L&B, it's Bensonhurst. If you live on the block, it's Gravesend, or the boondocks to anyone in Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst (once you hit the projects, its the boonies).

                      I've never had a miss from them, but I guess it all depends on what time of day you go and who's working. I'll tell you this much, the spumoni NEVER misses, which is the real reason to go there.

                      1. re: Lincolngrrl

                        Haha, the Marlboroughs aren't that bad. The pizza there is really consistent and really good, but I've never thought it was amazing. I happily eat there late at night. Odd too, since its the closest of the true pizzerias to where I live, with Di Fara a semi-close second. And yeah, the spumoni never misses.

                        1. re: JFores

                          The projects aren't bad now, but I'm guessing you weren't alive during the eighties. All of Brooklyn has become so gentrified, there's no longer any cache in saying "I'm from Brooklyn". I can't wait to move out of this's all friggin tourists now.

                          The way we always saw it is that Gravesend starts when the El goes off of 86th and onto Stillwell.

                          Have you ever eaten in the restaurant at L&B? Never have, but have heard great things. Have gotten their scungilli to go a few times- good, but nothing compared to Joe's of Avenue U.

                          1. re: JFores

                            Folks, we ask everyone to stay focused on the chow. We welcome opinions on food, but opinions on the safety of neighborhoods, or opinions about the residents and vistors to those neighborhoods, is off topic for our site.

                    2. JT is AWFUL!!! My friend and I tried a plethora of items from there and there was only one truffle that we liked. Some of the stuff tasted pretty old and the spicy hot chocolate was truly disappointing. Go to Vosges for spicy chocolate.

                      1. To all those who say Grimaldi's has underdone pizza, I should have mentioned that I ordered my pizza well done. I'm not sure if this changed things any (it was still slightly soggy near the front of the pizza slice). Anyhow, the other time I ate at Grimaldi's about two years ago I did *not* order it well-done and still loved it.