If there’s one major hole in my Brooklyn pizza education, it’s that I’ve never been to Grimaldi’s. Every time I’ve passed by, there’s been a huge line out front. Plus, it seems like most people agree the pizza isn’t that great, it’s just a Brooklyn institution that you kind of have to go to. And anyway it’s not really Grimaldi’s — back in 1998 Patsy Grimaldi sold the restaurant and the name to someone else, who has been running it ever since. Juliana’s, which recently opened right next door to Grimaldi’s, is actually run by the Grimaldis, and I met up with my friends Jess & Garrett to check it out. Patsy Grimaldi himself was working the room, paying special attention to a birthday party for a small child at the next table. Shortly after we ordered — a large sausage and garllic for Jess & Garrett, a small margherita for me — a server dropped off a large pie with mushrooms and ricotta at our table. When we mentioned that we hadn’t ordered that, we were told that it was on the house; it was a pie that had been messed up for another table, so they thought they would just give it to us. It was a remarkably generous gesture, all the more so because the pizza was fantastic.
The crust was thin but sturdy, with a light char. The mozzarella was creamy and the sauce was slightly sweet and tasted of ripe tomatoes. The fresh ricotta had barely melted in the heat of the coal-burning oven. This is miles away from my beloved Neapolitan-style pizza, it’s more what I would consider classic New York-style. The margherita was great as well. Both pizzas also passed what may be the most important test of all: eaten cold out of the refrigerator the next morning they were both excellent.
Juliana’s — 19 Old Fulton St