Pizza fans, your wait is over. Patsy Grimaldi is back under the Brooklyn Bridge, slinging coal fired pizza from the same oven that helped make his unassuming restaurant a destination for celebrities and (eventually) tourists around the world. But because he sold the restaurant that came to be called Grimaldi's in 1998 (before that he lost the rights to use his first name after a lawsuit from the Patsy's franchise), the 81-year-old is now doing business as Juliana's Pizza, named after his late mother. Last night we checked out its hotly-anticipated revival.
If you've been following along at home, you'll remember that Grimaldi's—which has been owned by one Frank Ciolli since Patsy sold the place in '98—moved up the block from 19 Old Fulton Street to 1 Front Street after a dispute with its landlord. Shortly after the move, it was announced that Patsy Grimaldi would be making a triumphant return to 19 Old Fulton with a new restaurant. Originally scheduled to open in March, Juliana's finally opened last night after months of bickering between the two pizza places with complaints to the city and lawsuits.
Both Patsy and his wife Carol were at the new location greeting new customers and old friends alike. When asked how things were going on his first night, Patsy Grimaldi told us that "things are going pretty well, but I have to keep on top of things." Grimaldi then returned to monitor the progress of his new pizzaioli.
The differences between Juliana's and Grimaldi's are clear the moment you walk in. It's obvious that Patsy and Carol wanted Juliana's to be different from Grimaldi's. With the modern decor, dressier (and nicer) waitstaff, fancier menu (lox, anyone?) and less-crammed seating, it feels like Juliana's is going after a different clientele. The pizza is also different from Grimaldi's. It's currently thicker (we were told they're still working on this), with a lighter, airier crust that feels more bread-like. While it's unfair to judge a pizzeria working an oven on its first day open, we think pizza lovers are in for a treat once the pizzaioli get reacquainted with that old oven. If anything, it will cause Grimaldi's to up its game and improve its consistency.
Appetizers include salad ($9/12), eggplant rollatini, spiedini, and fried calamari ($8 each or $18 for all three). Small pies run from $15-24 and $18-27 for large pies. Desserts include ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ($4), Carol's cannoli ($6), Apple Pie ($4), brookies ($6 for 3), and a Brookie Bridge (ice cream sandwiched between two brookies, $7). Juliana's also has bottled/draught beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.
Juliana's is open daily at noon and, unlike Grimaldi's, accepts credit cards. Still no slices!