Just returned from a 2 day business trip to Long Island. I didn't originally plan to make it to any brick oven pizzarias, but I had a couple of hours before my flight yesterday and was able to make it to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn (actually under the bridge) just before the noontime rush. They do get busy - line was out the door when I left.
I had read where most of the NY coal fired ovens were HUGE, wasn't the case here. Don't know the size, they were getting pretty busy and didn't seem interested in pacifying my curiosity.
I've read that coal ovens are white ovens - the fire being contained in the lower chamber, heating the upper portion. This is somewhat true for Grimaldi's, they do burn the coal in the lower chamber but then shovel the glowing red and orange chunks of coal (golf ball to baseball sized) into the upper cooking chamber. Ours was actually the first pizza of the day, I actually watched them push the glowing coal to one side after the hearth was up to temp...there was quite a lot of coal in the cooking chamber. They did say 850 degrees was their cooking temp; ( I didn't have an IR, nor did I see any thermometer in use).
I'm not an expert on NY pizza but I will say - this was by far the best NY style pizza I have ever had. Perfect charing on the thin (maybe 3/16") crust. The crust was firm yet easily withstood the classic NY fold without crumbling. The only improvement I woud want in the crust would be a more developed cornice, theirs was maybe 3/4" - 1"...personally I like it thicker and puffier.
Sauce was excellent and tasted very similar to the San Marzanos that I purchased from FB. They use a lot of sauce by VPN standards; which was fine by me. If the sauce is good and the crust will hold up to it, by all means - put more on. Fresh mozzarella, sliced, and randomly placed was melted perfectly - it had not "run all over the place". Topped with a half dozen basil leaves.
Very, very tasty pizza. Don't know if it was the coal or simply the ingredients; it tasted similar but was distinctly different from my best efforts.
price was cheap by NY (or FL) standards - $14 for an 18" pie.
By all means, give them a try when in Brooklyn (they have 2 other locations as well)
Re: Grimaldi's Brooklyn
I was there and they do not burn the coal in the lower chamber. That is ash storage chamber
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