The drama over beloved Brooklyn pizzeria Grimaldi's and its rent dispute-prompted move around the corner continues: Grimaldi's employees had been promising customers the same coal oven pizza at the new location, but now the Post reports that the Department of Buildings "put the kibosh on plans by the world-famous pizzeria to move into larger space next door after learning that its operators quietly installed a coal-fired brick oven at the new site without approval." The pizza war is on!
Intriguingly, the problems also involve notorious Brooklyn architect, Robert Scarano, who was banned from filing plans with the city over a history of bad building behavior. From the Post:
According to the DOB,
Ciolli said he was “unaware of Scarano’s history” when he hired an architect with Scarano’s firm to apply for a city construction permit at the new storefront. The application — approved in October — called from installing a “pizza oven,” but never mentioned a coal-fired brick oven would be installed. The city rarely issues new permits for coal-fired brick ovens because of environmental concerns. Existing ones like the one now at Grimaldi’s are grandfathered in — making them virtual gold mines. They can be approved on a case-by-case basis but it is very rare. City officials said they have recommended Ciolli install a gas-powered oven that uses coal for flavor enhancement. However, pizza aficionados say the taste of pizzas made that way pales in comparison to those made with true coal-fired brick ovens.
there's a "15-DAY LETTER OF INTENT TO REVOKE APPLICATION #320344043 ON 11/25/11. ISSUE DOB STOP ORDER AND NOTE THE PERCENTAGE OF WORK COMPLETED." Ciolli, though, is still trying to get a coal oven at the new site, which is critical since the man he bought Grimaldi's from, Patsy Grimaldi, is planning on taking over the old Grimaldi's location and will reopen the space as "Juliana's". The new Grimaldi's location was supposed to open on November 29, but it's unclear when that may happen now.
And for those of you interested in pizzeria genealogy: When Patsy Grimaldi first opened his DUMBO restaurant in 1990 he called it Patsy's, after his uncle Patsy Lancieri’s East Harlem pizzeria where he had worked growing up. He was forced to change the restaurant's name to Grimaldi's in 1995 after new owners took the East Harlem pizzeria and name. Then, in 1998, Grimaldi sold the pizzeria to Ciolli, but regretted it ever since.
While some of you may think this could get ugly, Ciolli insists to the Post, "I have no animosity towards Patsy and his family. He gave me a wonderful opportunity selling me the place in 1998, and I wish him the best."