One of the pleasures of living in New York City was having access to some of the best pizza on the planet. I'm not talking about that shitty Famous Ray's stuff that tourists think is New York pizza -- I'm talking the REAL deal, you know, Totonno's over in Coney Island; Lombardi's on Spring St. and Grimaldi's under the Brooklyn Bridge.
That great, coal-oven fired, thin-crust pie has been a stranger to Dallas until recently. Coalvines over on Cedar Springs opened a couple of years ago to good reviews and big crowds. I thought their pizza was pretty good. Little did I know that a branch of Grimaldi's opened up in Big D back in January over in the West Village shopping center.
My first impression was that the roomy, comfortable dining area was a lot more atmospheric than the no-frills Brooklyn location. Gone is the looong line of folks waiting their turn to get in. Instead, you just walk right in and take a seat. The small house salad I ordered was easily big enough to feed four. No kidding. It wasn't bad but was swimming in sliced, red peppers. Ugh. I hate red peppers.
Holly and I ordered an 18" large pizza -- half sausage and half pesto, garlic, mushroom. Guess who picked which items? Unfortunately I'm a pizza purist and regard the use of pesto on a pie as tantamount to treason. Just give me some mozz, some red sauce and maybe a basil leave or two and I'm good to go. The chefs in front of the oven felt a little differently though. They managed to slather a generous portion of pesto over most of the pizza...a pungent green swath staked out it's territory over most of my sausage side.
The pizza was crisp and pretty well cooked. No soggy middle (I kinda like the soggy middle). My overall impression is that the crust is a bit thicker and chewier than the NYC version. Still, it was an original taste. The roomy dining area gave Grimaldi's Dallas an edge over the claustrophobia of Coalvines. Still, I couldn't help think that maybe -- perhaps due to Coalvine's delicious fennel sausage seasoning -- that Grimaldi's came in as a close second. Not bad, not great. But at least it's something for New Yorker's in Dallas to get their thin-crust fix.