Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fat Bastard Saturday at Grimaldi's

It's always a good thing when a post I'm working on suddenly has added relevancy (more page views for us...I'm selfish). However, I wish it didn't have to come at the expense of Grimaldi's, which, for as long as the lines are, really should be able to pay their little old lady landlord in Florida.

My now former roommate, The Quaker and his (now) fiancee (he proposed the same day he moved in with her, so I congratulated him on getting all of the big moments in life out of the way in one day) invited me to check out Grimaldi's this past Saturday. To add a gloss of physical activity (and to be as cliche as possible), we included a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the first time I've ever walked the bridge, and my impression is that this is pretty much the epicenter of an Israeli/Palestinian-like conflict currently brewing between bikers and pedestrians in NYC. Whatever you do, don't stray into a bike lane or you may spark a powder keg and end up starting World War III.

Anyway, after weaving our way across the bridge, we ended up missing the first turn and walking too far. We arrived at the memorial to Brooklyn soldiers who fought in World War II, which was actually very classy and understated (unlike many recent monuments), before continuing on our way. Finally, we reached the typically massive line at Grimaldi's shortly after noon and prepared for the wait.

Waiting with an empty stomach is not a particularly good idea, so after about 20 minutes I excused myself and walked towards Brooklyn Bridge Park in search of a snack to hold me over before the pizza. I first spotted Brooklyn Lobster Pound, and after my first experience at Luke's Lobster a few weeks ago, I was really craving another lobster roll... but $15 plus tax is more than I felt like spending for a pre-lunch snack.

I walked back towards Grimaldi's feeling defeated (and cheap) until I spotted a place called The Landing. When we first got in line, I saw a sign advertising Chicago style hotdogs across the street, but it didn't really register until I saw a "Vienna Beef" poster hidden along the side-street. My craving for a Chicago dog piqued, I ended up in an enclosed concrete wall, inside of which was a parking lot and a hot dog cart. The menu also advertised a Korean dog with kimchi and organic hotdogs (oxymoron!), but my heart was set on a Chicago dog. The guy questioned my bona fides, but I set him straight by establishing my Midwestern credentials by getting it with all the classic toppings (tomato, pickles, raw onions, homemade mustard and celery salt on a poppy seed bun) and extra sport peppers. For $6 (I know, but it's a touristy area), it definitely hit the spot for a pre-pizza appetizer.

I enjoyed making everyone else in line watch me eat my hot dog, but that pleasure only lasted a scant few minutes before I was again bored with the never ending line. After 45 minutes, almost the entire crowd of the restaurant, what was clearly a bus full of tourists, filed out, and the line finally started moving again. As we got closer to the front, we saw a small group try to bypass the line. Everyone glared at them with simmering rage, but no one said a word. Thankfully, the old guy in charge was clearly used to clueless tourists (or malevolent line-cutting animals) and firmly directed them towards the back of the line, which at this point was building towards the park.

We were finally led to our seat after waiting a little over an hour. Obviously we ordered immediately, since there is no excuse not to know what you want after waiting in line for so long.

We ordered two pizzas, a cheese margherita as the "control," plus one with sausage, onions and peppers.

For me, the plain was far superior to the sausage, which was bland and needed a stronger fennel kick. However, I did like the sweet red peppers and onions. Both were well cooked and not soggy, like some complaints I'd read.

I dug the crust on both, even though I usually prefer it lighter and puffier. Was it the best pizza I've ever had? Not by a longshot (and I think I like Totonno's better, even having not been to the original location), but it was still good and worth trying at least once. I'm not going to wait in line anytime soon though (or possibly, ever again, if they lose their lease). Yet walking the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi's is comparable to the touristy experience of waiting in line at Katz's, but with much more exercise and sunshine--- which means I prefer Katz's.

We left mostly full, but since we were with someone who eats ice cream for dinner, we had to stop at the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory (twist my arm). As an avowed lover of milkshakes, I got a large strawberry milkshake for the completely reasonable price of $7.50.  Apparently it cost more for a milkshake than a water taxi ride back to Manhattan ($6). I'm not sure what to make of that. The milkshake was very good, with an excellent consistency-- thick, but not too thick (but for that much I'll get a milkshake at Shopsin's, the gold standard).

The water taxi ride back into Manhattan only reminded me how much food I'd consumed in little over an hour as my milkshake (which I drank way too quickly) splashed in my stomach along with the rhythm of the waves. There I realized that this true feat of gastronomy could only be soothed by and even stronger weapon in my arsenal: a post-meal nap.

19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Grimaldi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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