Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY
(718) 858-4300


How often do we spend our lives waiting in line? I ruminated the question, as I did just that with the view of the Brooklyn Bridge competing with the sounds of my stomach voicing its impatience through groans and whimpers. We were told it was to be a 45 minute wait, but as I stretched my vision to count the dozens of people ahead of us, all I could think was this better be worth it.
The occasion was marked by my sister’s birthday. As the only woman in our group not wearing heels, I began to feel grateful for my fondness of Converse sneakers as my feet were already beginning to throb.

“I promise you, this is the best pizza ever. I ate a whole pie last time. Well, four slices. And I could’ve had more.”

My sister is not known for an excessively large appetite, so I was intrigued. She began using adjectives that I questioned the validity of; words like “stupendamazingly,” “fantasticly” and “deliciosing.”

Forty-five minutes turned into 90 and I began to feel hatred toward the pretentiousness of New York. I wondered if maybe this place hired people to wait in line just to make tourists and tax payers curious. My stomach grumbled in three different languages and I couldn’t imagine what a restaurant the size of my old studio apartment could do to make pizza so “stupendamazing.” My sister’s voice grew more heightened in pitch as she acknowledged the wait being almost over.

“The sauce! The sauce! And the cheese! It slides down your throat, Aimee. Slides right down!”

As we walked inside, I was impressed at how many tables fit inside such a tiny place. Everyone was excitedly chewing and sitting so close together, it seemed as though it was just one giant party. I salivated at the steaming pizza pies elevated on tabletops. Carafes of wine were being drained as napkins sat erect on laps waiting to be sopped up with dripping sauce. I searched for discontentment. There appeared to be none.

We were a party of four and we ordered three pizzas. I figured we would each take one home with us and then eat the fourth there. We waited in line long enough–we might as well stock our freezers, right?

“Two with mozzarella and basil, one with red peppers and olives, and one with sausage, please. Oh, and a carafe of red.”

The wait for our pizza was far shorter than the line outside. But while we waited, I asked my sister what it was about this place that caused such hysteria.

“The oven. It’s brick. The crust is perfectly baked and flat enough so you can eat lots and not feel bloated.”

Upon doing further research after visiting Grimaldi’s, I learned that modern ovens like gas and electric cannot produce a high enough heat to produce the profound flavor and texture that a coal-brick oven at 850 degrees Fahrenheit can. In Manhattan, these ovens are illegal. So owner Patsy Grimaldi decided to build his restaurant in Brooklyn; as its popularity grew, they built a second location in Hoboken, NJ.

Our waiter arrived with two pies, the remaining two waited on deck. I was struck by the color–a vibrant red, unlike the general pinkish-watered down hue I have grown accustomed to seeing. My sister served us each a slice as I poured the wine and we toasted to the night. To describe my first bite of mozzarella and basil pizza, I must channel the sounds created by all of us sitting at the table, simultaneously as though warming up our voices for a deep operetta:


The sauce was, in short, perfect; not too watery or spicy. Clinging perfectly to the dough, never plummeting to my plate in a messy suicide. The crust indeed melted in my mouth, offering the exact welding of crispiness and chewy consistency. The basil appeared to have been handpicked, as they contained no flaws or tears. There were just enough flavors to avoid being overcrowded or upstaged by any particular ingredient. The cheese was worth the violation to my digestive system, not overcooked or stringy. It was rich and creamy the way cheese used to taste before we became obsessed with over- pasteurization. I was hooked. I beat my sister’s record, devouring five slices and still wanting more (which I had on the subway ride home).

Most times in life, we wait on line and find ourselves forgetting our intention for being there. In this case, I would have waited two more hours because it gave my body time to want it.

by Aimee Herman

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