Unlike my college counterparts, spending their Spring Break downing tequila sunrises under the Jamaican sun, I headed north for a bite of the Big Apple. New York City fit the bill for a foodie themed vacation. Unfortunately, what ‘fit the bill’ in the guide books, did not mean ‘cheap’. However, my money was well spent in this city.
Catching the bus to NYC at 6 AM meant no breakfast. Who has time for eating that early? Thankfully, I slept on the bus, forgoing pangs of hunger from my stomach. By 10 I felt like I could eat an entire pizza. By the time we finally claimed a spot in line at Grimaldi’s, it was noon and my stomach was about to riot.
The brick store front was rather unassuming, though that didn’t stop people from taking pictures in front of this local landmark restaurant. Having the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop was an added real estate perk. The 15 person line outside waited to be beckoned inside by a grey-haired, New York veteran of the Pizzeria.
Once inside we sat at a long, clustered table, covered by a picnic plaid tablecloth. The interior was cramped, but quaint. Autographed photos and posters lined the walls; my favorite being: “We are going to make a pizza you can’t turn down”.
In the back, a coal burning brick oven blazed as pizzas were plunged into the flames on wooden planks. Leathered hands spun dough like it was weightless. It soared up and then parachuted back into the folded fingers. I wanted lessons.
Back at my seat, the pizza awaited me on a silver pizza plate. Upon recommendation of my Italian-raised travel buddy, we ordered a 16” pie with sausage, ricotta cheese, and mushrooms. You couldn’t order it by the slice; only full pizza-pies here. The taste was a rustic, without being overly greasy or salty. Although, I doubt you could choose ‘the wrong’ toppings.
Slices of New York Style pizza are WTF. No, no – get your head out of the gutter. It stands for Wide, Thin, and Foldable. The first time I tried grappling with one of these enormous slices I used a fork and knife, apparently a cultural faux pas. This time I knew proper pizza etiquette, and folded my crunchy crust in half and let the juices drip. No need for utensils. The slices became a bit soggy by the end from the sweet and savory tomato sauce, but by that time we only had two slices left anyway.
We set out to cross the Brooklyn Bridge full of New York pizza delight. As my first authentic, New York Style pizza, I was impressed. My stomach was as well, and that’s the true judge of a food’s character.