Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My first slice.

Dinner at Grimaldi's: my first official NY pizza!

Stepping out from the High Street subway stop I looked up and saw the Brooklyn Bridge, a bridge as impressive up close as well as it is from afar. I loved being close up to the bridge, no matter the din. So big and classic, it reminded me of the Golden Gate Bridge back home. I felt like it was a protector of New York and I was happy to be one of its citizens.

I'd been to DUMBO before but never to this stretch of Old Fulton Road. It was adorable. I could see the East River, the financial district skyline, and a stretch of shops that looked like they belonged in the Iowa. Small town quaint. Tonight I was heading to the most famous location on that stretch: Grimaldi's. I'd been in New York for almost two months and the only time I'd had pizza it was bad. As in don't-finish-it-toss-it-in-the-trash bad. I needed to rectify the "Pizza Situation" asap. So I joined my friend Meg for a virginal trip to Grimaldi's. As an experienced New Yorker, Meg said we should get there before 6pm. After that she mentioned something about crazy long lines. No problem.

I made sure to eat light that day so I would be ready to split a whole pizza. And, before I left my apartment, I made sure to turn my I'm-on-a-diet button off. One of the few days it was off, I was going to dive in with my whole stomach. No sooner had I walked up and hugged Meg but a gentle looking white-haired man walked out and asked me where I'd been all this time. Grabbing my hand he pulled me in, shook it and held onto it for a second longer, I felt like a regular, like a favorite customer. I loved it. He pointed us to a red-checked table, "Take the deuce over there".

As we settled in I was excited to catch up with Meg and you know, to eat pizza. We quickly put in our order and then, because of the timing, oven cleaning or something like that, we would have to wait about 25 minutes. We opted for a bottle of Valpolicella, a nice italian red, to while away the time. As I looked around, taking it all in, hearing the music and seeing other tourists, I noticed the kitchen. I leapt up, phone in hand, to grab some pictures. Standing by the worktable, I asked the expeditor if he minded, "Nope".

From the looks of it the cooks were all Latino. These guys made it look easy and fun. They wouldn't look me in the eye, just kept their focus and grabbed dough, stretched and flattened it out with their hands, throwing tomato sauce, cheese, basil, all kinds of toppings on it. There was one guy who was clearly in charge of the pizza oven. When he opened it up I could see the flames coming out, orangey and purple, like the flames on a duraflame log. The oven was so deep he needed a pizza paddle with a four foot long extension. When he threw the pizzas in they went all the way to the back. I wanted to get in there, throw on an apron and help out. No chance of that I'm sure.

Back to the table to wait for the pie. Ours came with ricotta, black cured olives, italian sausage and red pepper. When it arrived, steaming from the oven, I just smiled. And I took the picture up top. Had to. The pizza is thin but not too thin, crunchy. The dough has a nice tang to it and a nice bite, a little tough. If pizza could be al dente, this was it. The ricotta added a nice rich texture to the mozzarella and the black cured olives added the perfect salty pucker. I won't tell you how much I ate, I'm a little embarrassed. But, let's just say I went for a run this morning. You can see more pics here.

Grimaldi's, the pizza oven

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