For those who missed the memo in the 1990s, the famous "Grimaldi's Under the Brooklyn Bridge" was sold off to Frank Ciolli in 1998. Grimaldi's was considered to be one of the best pies in New York City, but since the ownership change, the unreasonably long lines and the sub-par quality of the pies pretty well spelled an end to those days. Or perhaps not?
Thankfully, Patsi Grimaldi decided to come out of retirement in 2012 (now almost 81 years old), and decided to open Grimaldi's 2: Judgement Day right next door to his 100-year-old DUMBO staple. But after a trademark dispute with TriStar Pictures, he settled on a less catchy homage to his mother: Juliana's.
Does the man still have what it takes? Stay tuned to find out!
There's only one thing better than a Grimaldi's location with a line out the door, and that's two Grimaldi's locations with lines out the door. Juliana's did not disappoint. I feel slightly bad that likely all of the tourists waiting for one of New York's supposedly famous pies at 1 Front St didn't know that those pies up and moved literally next door four years ago, until I realized that the only reason the line for Juliana's hadn't doubled yet was because Grimaldi's is now acting as a decoy pizza! Patsi, you are brilliant.
The line is the hard part, but once you're sitting down, it's no more than fifteen minutes from chair to pizza. Thank goodness pizza is a quick food to cook.
I feel like I should be required to sign an NDA before taking this picture.
It's so soft! It's not trying to dethrone Charmin for a place in your bathroom any time soon, but it's perfectly chewy and well-cooked. The structure and well-formed gluten content kept the entire experience together, which is a treat in a world of rapidly-contagious Neapolitan Swamp Syndrome. Its thickness was uniform throughout and probably had the perfect slope from the edge to the middle, but somehow still maintained that pillowy softness.
She's a real beauty.
Even better, Juliana's crust carried the perfect balance of salt, oil, and flavor, and other than being just a tad dry, delighted with a brilliant taste, texture, and structure trifecta. And for once, the perfect amount of char from the oven. Well done Patsi.
Unsurprisingly, nobody has been able to dethrone New York as the king of cheese on pizza dough, and Juliana's was no exception. They did go for the sliced glob approach versus the NYC Uniform Spread, but it still delivered a fresh, lightly salted, tasty topping to a delicious pizza. Somehow it was not oily -- very non-standard for this part of the world -- yet retained all the flavor of New York's sea-of-oil classic pies.
Admittedly I did see parmesan added, but its taste was nowhere to be found. Otherwise, Juliana's mozzarella was perfectly flavored and a delicious topping. Supposedly it's even homemade!
Now that's what I'm talking about! That's how cheese is supposed to work.
The sauce, unfortunately, was the only underwhelming piece of the pie. It lacked nothing in the quantity department, but the taste was very sweet, did not grab your attention, and had very little acidity — my metric for a good sauce. If you weren't paying attention, its primary function was to lubricate the rest of the pie, but was simply an assistant and in no way a main act.
Patsi still works his magic in the new location, with excellent cheese, deliciously soft and smooth crust, and a fresh and memorable pizza. With a sauce upgrade, a Juliana's pie could land in the upper echelon of NYC pizza. And while we're at it, like most things in life, about three times the basil wouldn't hurt either.