Patsy Grimaldi’s Coming out of Retirement to Take Over Original Pizza Location in Dumbo

Grimaldi's Pizza

Less than a week after news broke about Grimaldi’s moving next door to 1 Front Street, the NY Post published an article that Patsy Grimaldi will come out of retirement to open, or rather re-open, a pizza restaurant next to the newly moved Grimaldi’s Pizza. Patsy Grimaldi, the founder of Grimaldi’s sold his restaurant to current owner, Frank Ciolli in 1998. This is not the first time Patsy has come out of retirement. In 2006, he temporarily opened a pizza location at Aviator Sports & Recreation complex at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The 80 year old Patsy told the NY Times in 2006 that “I’ve been retired — it was a big mistake.” In today’s NY Post article, Patsy tells them “A year after I sold Grimaldi’s, I was very sorry,” Grimaldi told The Post. “So when Mr. Waxman called me and asked if I wanted to come back, I thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.” Mark (and Dorothy) Waxman, the landlord at 19 Old Fulton Street decided not to renew Ciolli’s lease. Last year, Ciolli and the Waxmans had a falling out over back taxes and lost his right to renew his lease.

The new Patsy Grimaldi restaurant will be called Juliana’s, after his late mother and plans to open in March 2012. Patsy plans to be at the restaurant daily. More importantly, Patsy will take over the coal-fired brick oven, which is said to give pizza a unique smokey flavor and a crisp crust that is just not possible with gas, convection, or wood ovens. Ciolli on Monday told the Post “he welcomed “competition” and would apply for city permission to acquire another coal-fired brick oven”. However, “environmental regulations also make it hard to build new coal ovens. Nowadays in New York City, coal ovens can only be rebuilt or replaced under an environmental grandfather clause — not installed from scratch. Pizza makers have become architectural historians, seeking out spaces that once housed a coal-burning oven, like old bakeries or restaurants.” (ref. NY Times, 10 June 1998) A list of coal oven pizzerias on the Slice list include Grimaldi’s and Totonno’s in Brooklyn.

While the Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s pizzerias will be neighbors in Fulton Ferry Landing, both Frank Ciolli and Patsy Grimaldi seem to welcome a friendly competition. Patsy says “There’s enough business in that area for three Grimaldi’s to do well,” and Frank tells the Post that “he welcomed competition”. With Wild Rise Pizza (68 Jay Street), Ignazio’s (4 Water Street), and Front Street Pizza (80 Front Street) in Dumbo, the pizza game will be on!

Patsy Grimaldi (left) and Frank Ciolli (right) (Photo by Brigitte Stelzer, The Brooklyn Paper)

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