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Apr 16, 2014 10:05 PM

Grimaldi's Pizza in El Segundo Review:

Was in El Segundo for a business meeting and would of been caught in rush hour traffic if I drove straight home. Therefore I planned to have a dinner at Grimaldi's, after hearing about this Brooklyn institute coming to LA. I had to try it. My server Alejandro was very helpful in introducing the menu to me. I went with a Small pepperoni Pizza with half sausage & half bacon, with a wheat beer to start. Out comes my hot pizza and boy was it tasty and I have half saved for tomorrow. I then met the manager Jesus who showed me photos of the original location under neath the Brooklyn bridge, always a pleasure hearing stories from people who take pride in their restaurant's history. He convinced me to try a Canoli and it was one of the best I've had, that is on the West Coast. Next time I'm in this city I will make it a regular visit

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  1. should be noted that they put sugar in their tomato sauce.

    some folks like this.
    some folks are oblivious to it.

    to others, like myself, it wrecks the pizza.
    maybe covering the sugar sauce with cured meat is the answer.. . .

    10 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      A touch of sugar or red wine in tomato sauce is pretty standard to address the acidity in tomatoes.

      1. re: bringiton

        Or, alternatively, some very finely grated carrot or beet usually works.

        1. re: bringiton

          more common in the crust b/c it helps it brown

        2. re: westsidegal

          I have been to a number of Grimaldi's around the country...including the "mothership" (which I understand is separate from the franchise operation)...Simply stated, the sauce is too sweet but the crust is good. I have remedied this situation a couple of times by asking them to make a pie with minimal sauce (a schmeer!) topped with thinly sliced fresh sliced tomatoes...and since the El Segundo location is within walking distance of work...I will have to make do with this.

          Unfortunately, this Italian boy has yet to find authentic pizza (Neapolitian, Roman or other) anywhere in SoCal...and I have looked for 50+ years! A chain operation is not likely to use good San Marzano tomatoes which would not need sugar to balance the acidity (as others have mentioned)...and the American palate is unfortunately "trained" to crave corporate America is obliging the public in this!

          1. re: TravelPath

            Wow, Travel Path, go to Settebello in MDR for Neapolitan style pizza! i dont think you'll be disappointed!

            1. re: lapizzamaven

              I have...a number of times...unfortunately Settebello is just not to my taste!...the crust is not right...and this is sad since I have an office within walking distance. I have actually been to the MDR, SLC and Farmington, UT A+ for consistent product...but lacking to me.

              De gustibus non est disputandum!

              Fortunately I constructed a small backyard bread/pizza oven where I can make a pretty fair pie...if I don't say so myself!

                  1. re: lapizzamaven

                    I really like the pizza at Clusi Batusi (much more than the pizza I had at Sotto). I don't know if Clusi has the "type" under discussion here, or not, but the pie is excellent whatever type it is.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Both Sotto and Clusi Batusi produce a tasty pie...Sotto is close to home so I have been a number of times...but once again, it is lacking in authenticity...the balance that makes pizza in Napoli and Roma so special is just not there....and when I am on Sawtell, it is hard to go for pizza at Clusi Batusi (I have...good, not great) when excellent sushi and noodles are right there! It is probably an ingredient problem...but then again, I can produce a pretty decent pie at home with the ingredients I can get. All of this talk is making me hungry...I may have to fire up the "beast" this weekend (12 hours of preheating before cooking)

          2. Trying not to sound mean here but you posted a review of a restaurant on a foodie website and the only description of the food was the word tasty

            19 Replies
            1. re: mwalsh5


              here's my opinion to fill in the blank:

              crust: great
              cheese: ok
              sauce: sugary yuck

              ambiance: huge, newly decked out, cavernous space that is a cross between what you think a pizza parlor should look like and what you think a mid-priced chain steak house should look like.

              service: upselling "are you SURE you don't want a nice glass of wine to go with that pizza?"

              it was hard not to respond with any of a number of snarky comments that came to mind, but i was a good girl that day. . . . .

              fortunately for them, it seems that my opinions are in the minority and they get crowded at night.

              1. re: westsidegal

                A good girl ?????

                That was quite nice of you. :)

                1. re: kevin

                  it was difficult. as you know, i'm rarely a good girl. requires too much restraint.

                  i quickly drove to settebello to have some no-sugar-added pizza.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Westsidegal, agree about the sauce but i dig the crust as a different option out here that i overlook the sweetness of the sauce...Ive been back to South End in Marina del Rey...excellent pizza(Mozza like, former Mozzer, Frank Fermin majority owner) and wine selection!

                      1. re: lapizzamaven

                        will try South End soon.

                        i will probably never be returning to grimaldi's.
                        i LOVE tomatos. the tomato sauce at grimaldi"s, with its sugar is completely yuck to me. ruins the entire pie.

                        if i'm going to "spend" the calories of pizza and not have tomatoes, would much rather end up at cafe del rey having their truffle pizza at the bar. far better experience all the way around.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Tell me more about the Truffle Pizza at Cafe Del Rey.

                          isn't on the happy hour menu too, or is that just a tiny personal pizza version that you and me both despise compared to standard sized pies with the apropos surface area ratio ????????????


                          also, does cafe del rey have the famed black forrest cake again ?????

                          Thanks WG.

                          1. re: kevin

                            re: the cafe del rey truffle pizza
                            in the day, it was a destination pizza
                            still is good but has lost a certain edge
                            (jason has been gone for years now and some drift has taken place)
                            small-sized one is on the happy hour menu and on the lounge menu for about $11 or $12
                            the happy hour/lounge version does NOT suffer from puffy crust syndrome thankfully

                            the famed black forest cake is NOT back because carlos is not back. that cake was in it's own league. the stuff of dreams.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              WG, you have me deeply despondently distressingly depressed now in regards to the cafe del rey of yore.

                              but at least there's still truffle pizza and i will be allowed to order it off the happy hour menu to boot.


                              1. re: kevin

                                AND their happy hour menu is available until closing!
                                including the drinks!
                                all the other places i go have much more limited happy hours.

                                re: the pizza,
                                even if it wasn't on the happy hour menu, you could order the small one off of the appetizer section of the regular menu.

                          2. re: westsidegal

                            the Del Rey pizza didnt do anything for me...I shared an excellent pie at Grimaldi's again today...theyve been inconsistent with the amount of sauce on each pie...less today than last visit...i didnt find the sweetness at all disturbing and ive certainly tasted too sweet pizza sauce...the crust today was again, well worth the price of admission. no crust like it in the LA area as far as im aware its a rare treat....That said, if i still lived in MDR id spend most pizza nights at South End or Settebello.

                            1. re: lapizzamaven

                              haven't been to south end yet
                              their happy hour ends at 6: sort of early especially since the restaurant opens for dinner at 4:30.
                              there was nothing on their website to indicate what, exactly they are offering for happy hour, so i guess it will be an adventure.

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          settebello is completely different pie which im glad you like...i dont think settebello can carry olio's jockstrap tho for that style.. to me, settebello suffers from put all the cheese and toppings in the middle part of the pie not to come closer than 4 inches from the crust and then have one soggy bite followed by acidic tomato sauce/crust fairness, ive been once, but i wont be back.

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        >> what you think a mid-priced chain steak house should look like.

                        I went a few weeks and and, like you, enjoyed the crust (which is no small feat) but I left feeling generally ambivalent about the experience. (I didn't have the same negative reaction to the sauce, though it seems the obvious workaround would be to get a white or pesto pie instead, which share equal billing with the traditional pie.)

                        What's more interesting to me is this burgeoning trend of historic NY pizzeria's going all TGIFriday's on us. (The DiFara Vegas outpost, called "Dom DeMarco's", follows the same sort of douchey sports bar vibe.) Years ago I remembered hearing Grimaldi's opening up in Scottsdale, of all places, and knew that something was up.


                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          What did you think of Doml's kid's joint in Vegas ??????????????

                          1. re: kevin

                            The square pie was not bad, though my memory of it has faded. I'd feel more comfortable checking in after having another taste. I think I posted about it on the Vegas board at some point.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              if you happen to find the link, please cross post.

                          2. re: Mr Taster

                            Mr Taster, agree about the "ambiance" at Grimaldi's...but also something i can live with, like the slightly sweet sauce, considering that i really dig the very rare old school, NY style crust.

                        2. I went to the original Grimaldis in New York a few weeks back and left thoroughly unimpressed. There's much better pizza to be had in NY and better to be had in LA as well.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Johnny L

                            Like DiFara's.

                            In a word: truly beautiful stuff.

                            1. re: Johnny L

                              You did not go to the original Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, you went to its successor. Frank Ciolli bought the original Grimaldi's from Patsy Grimaldi in 1998. He had problems with the landlord and in a few years was evicted from this location. He opened up a new Grimaldi's a few doors down from the original store. Patsy Grimaldi, upon finding out that his original store with its coal fired oven was vacant, rented it and opened up a new Pizzeria called Juliana's, which exists to this day. NY hounds prefer Juliana's to Grimaldi's.

                              1. re: pizzafreak

                                Pizzafreak, thanks for clarifying the somewhat convoluted Grimaldi's saga..their legal battle over the name preceded the present Patsy Grimaldi status!

                                1. re: pizzafreak

                                  I can go even further back, I used to go when it was called Patsy's in the early 90s. Back then Patsy would come by every table to say hello and half the patrons looked like extras from the Godfather. It was my first choice on where to go for my HS graduation dinner and for years it was my first stop whenever I would come back to Brooklyn.

                                  1. re: Discokill

                                    I think a brief history of Grimaldi's might be in order. Sorry I didn't do this in my previous post. Some of this will be redundant. El Segundo Grimaldi, and all the other Grimaldi’s in AZ, LV, Texas, Bklyn, and all stops in between except Hoboken, NJ has nothing to do with the original Grimaldi’s in Bklyn , which was owned by Patsy Grimaldi. Patsy Grimaldi learned his craft over many years when he worked for his uncle, Patsy Lancieri, the original owner of Patsy’s in East Harlem, one of the few coal fired oven pizzerias in NYC, and then in 1990 opened up his own pizzeria in Brooklyn called Patsy’s Pizzeria, also with a coal fired oven. In 1994 Patsy’s East Harlem sold the naming rights of Patsy’s to IOD Realty, keeping the naming rights to the East Harlem store. IOD proceeded to open up 4 more Patsy’s in Manhattan, and then sued Patsy Grimaldi for name right infringement.After a contentious court fight IOD won, so Patsy’s in Bklyn became Grimaldi’s in 1996. In 1998 Patsy Grimaldi sold his original store to Frank Ciolli, but kept the Grimaldi naming rights to his 2 pizzerias in Hoboken, NJ. Ciolli, after a rough time, was evicted from the original Brooklyn store with the the coal fired oven. Ciolli opened up a new Grimaldi's pizzeria a few stores down from the original Grimaldi’s, and proceeded to expand Grimaldi’s across the USA. Patsy Grimaldi, upon learning that his original store was once again for lease with that wonderful coal fired oven grandfathered, opened up a new pizzeria called Juliana’s, named after his mother. Today they compete with each other and the NY hounds prefer Juliana’s to Grimaldi’s.

                              2. MAJOR DOWNHILL ALERT:

                                And I say downhill because I had a very good experience the first two times I went.

                                Went again for lunch yesterday and the crust came out like a dried out crispy flatbread...almost like a cracker. No give at all, it would just break. I noticed it right away and commented to the person (wasn't our server) that brought out the pizza to us that the crust looked really different. She told me that they have been having issue with the oven and that this was one of the better pies to come out today. Then our server checked in and I mentioned the crust again. He apologized and brought the manager over. No one would acknowledge that the crust was off but no one also tried to convince me that this is how their crusts are (thank goodness). The manager was very polite and offered to make me a new pie, which I declined since I was on my lunch break and didn't want to wait for a new pie. So he gave me a $25 gift card to come back which I thought was a very nice gesture.

                                On my way out, I looked at a few other tables and their crusts looked just like the one we had...not good.

                                I really hope this was a fluke with their dough that day and that it won't be like this from now on. Will report back....eventually.

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: TailbackU

                                  i had it a few days ago, too, hmmm, maybe the crust is a little on the fritz, shoot.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    off topic but, hey, did you see that I finally made it over to shunji's?

                                    1. re: TailbackU

                                      All other lunches are going to suck for a while

                                        1. re: TailbackU

                                          i forgot, sorry.

                                          was i coercing and compelling and commandeering you to hit up shunji's ??????? :)

                                          hopefully you had a very pleasant experience.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            not directly, but you're one of the biggest cheerleaders for Shunji's

                                  2. re: TailbackU

                                    so, the last time you went the CRUST was LOUSY
                                    the sauce had SUGAR in it.

                                    doesn't sound good.
                                    when you use your gift certificate please report back

                                    1. re: westsidegal


                                      That other poster was right. Good tasting tomatoes should have relatively low pH (high acidity) and high on the Brix scale (high sweetness), so if you have a particular crop that has high acidity but low sugar development, it is absolutely right to add enough sugar to correct that.

                                      Having said that, any of these possibilities seems likely:

                                      a) they're invoking their inner corporation by shipping Sysco-style premade, oversweeted sauce in big plastic bags

                                      b) the sauce taster didn't have his tastebuds aligned

                                      c) they just dump the same amount of sugar in the tomatoes regardless of how that particular batch of tomatoes tasted.

                                      Mr Taster

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          My instincts tell me you're probably right.

                                          Mr Taster

                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                          this wasn't the kind of sweetness normally found in even vine ripened tomatoes.

                                          i used to live in sacramento and, during those years, during the summers, practically everyone in town was competing about how great and sweet their home-grown tomatoes were.

                                          to my palate, the sauce at grimaldi's didn't taste like any natural tomato.
                                          this, to me, wasn't "correcting"

                                          (also, my girlfriend, for years worked for Contadina/Nestle, so i have some idea about what goes on in order to get consistency in tomato sauce)

                                          the only other time in my life that i tasted red sauce that was remotely like this was in an italian restaurant in new jersey in 1985; that tomato-paste based sauce also had sugar in it. it was even worse than the grimaldi sauce.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            Wow, you just evoked some terrible New Jersey Italian memories.

                                            I was kind to the folks on the New Jersey board, who were trying to help-- but the sauce I had at the much-beloved and highly recommended "Joe Italiano's" was utterly disgusting. Candy sauce. I didn't get that same gut level revulsion from Grimaldi's sauce.

                                            Read my original post and replies here:

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster


                                              (i believe the name of the place i went to was "jerry's" or "johnnies" or something like that. within striking distance of rutherford.)

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                In that case, you guys should definitely not hit up al gelato for a meal.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  i tried al gelato for gelato.
                                                  that was enough.

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    But seriously if you tried their pizza you'd go bat shit crazy.

                                                    Grimaldis is completely savory in comparison.

                                      1. I tried Grimaldi's El Segundo for a quiet lunch a while ago and found it fair at best, totally forgettable. Waiter was intrusively trying to chat me up while I was reading (I love a quiet solo lunch). The Chowhound threads on pizza are filled with great names, any of which are a mile better than this place.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: duck55

                                          If youre not in the mood for a Neapolitan style pizza, id love to know many names of pizzerias better than Grimaldi's...maybe ive had particularly good luck but today's crust was solid...oh well...

                                          1. re: lapizzamaven

                                            << If youre not in the mood for a Neapolitan style pizza, id love to know many names of pizzerias better than Grimaldi's>>

                                            start with STELLA BARRA.
                                            (even though i apparently become invisible when i sit down there).
                                            at least the pizza has always been terrific: crust, cheese, and SAUCE.

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              Well, i really liked my first 2 pies at Stella Barra, Westsidegal... but then the crusts lost their airy texture...became gummy and small...and go to Grimaldis before goin back to Stella Barra...and there is nothing the Grimaldis NY style coal fired pie around...sauce was def not too sweet for me either...try South End next time...nice small space and Mario's a great owner/host!

                                              1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                i haven't been back there since settebello opened in the marina.
                                                will need to go back just to see for myself if their crust has permanently turned to crap.

                                                the problems i'm having with south end are:
                                                1) i'd have to pass settebello to get to it.
                                                2) it doesn't open until 4:30 and it's happy hour ends at

                                                otoh, settebello is open continuously between lunch and dinner every day. the first settebello happy hour starts at around 3 and ends at 7, their second "drinks only" happy hour starts the moment the kitchen closes and lasts an hour.