Grimaldi’s will serve its final pie — then move next door

Grimaldi’s will serve its final pie — then move next door
Now you’ll be able to line up for takeout — with proper spacing of course.
File photo by Sarah Portlock

It’s the end of Grimaldi’s as we know it!

The iconic DUMBO pizzeria hailed for its coal-fired oven and Frank Sinatra décor will move next door at the end of the month after a battle with its landlord.

“We’re moving into a bigger, nicer, and cleaner facility,” said Gina Peluso, daughter of owner Frank Ciolli. “It will be nice to have a little more room.”

Grimaldi’s will serve its final pie at its current location on Nov. 28, then open one day later open in 1 Front St. — a former bank turned bar and lounge. The eatery will take over the first floor, while the second floor will remain a nightclub.

But the change comes as no surprise to local pizza-lovers.

Last year, the building’s landlord, Dorothy Waxman, tried to evict Ciolli for falling behind on rent and city taxes.

Instead, a judge ordered her to accept late payments and keep Grimaldi’s open. Waxman’s son Mark, who handles the property, vowed to boot the beloved joint as soon as its lease expired on Nov. 30.

“[Ciolli] tried to re-sign, but his lease is over at this point,” said Waxman, a gastroenterologist in New Jersey. “We’ll announce a new tenant that I think people will be very happy with.”

Grimaldi’s departure leaves some big shoes to fill.

And the question of what will happen to the ultra-rare coal-fired brick oven.

Coal ovens — which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit — are now illegal in New York City but have been grandfathered in to about two dozen restaurants across the boroughs.

Tim Zagat, co-founder of the Zagat restaurant survey, says the new location won’t likely diminish the pizzeria’s popularity — though he hopes the new location isn’t too shiny and new.

The cramped storefront under the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city’s top-rated pizzerias, attracting celebrity visits — including First Lady Michelle Obama, TV crews, and a daily line of hungry tourists.

Inside the tiny brick building, old photographs of the Rat Pack cover the walls, a mix of Sinatra and ’80s music plays on the radio and people are crammed together at tables covered in old checkered table cloths.

“Pizza places have to be a little grungy,” Zagat said. “If it was a bright new clean place that would be unlike my favorite pizza places. But it’s hard to judge in advance what the new Grimaldi’s will be.”

There are no slices — only whole pies served on red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. Foodies go wild over the coal-smoked crust and fresh mozzarella.”

Patsy Grimaldi, who learned how to make the tantalizing pies under his pizzaioli uncle, opened the restaurant in 1990. Eight years later, he sold his shop and the name to Ciolli, whose family now also operates offshoots in Manhattan, Queens, Hoboken and Las Vegas.

Grimaldi became a pizza king himself after working at his uncle’s East Harlem joint, Patsy’s Pizzeria, which opened in the 1930s as one of the city’s earliest parlors.

And if you were wondering why the restaurant swoons over Sinatra, Grimaldi delivered sausage pies to Ol’ Blue Eyes himself — who hailed Patsy’s as a top pie maker.

The original Patsy died in the ’70s, but his widow sold the parlor to longtime employees, forcing Grimaldi to open the parlor under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Years later, Grimaldi said he regretted selling his pizzeria to Ciolli and emerged from retirement in 2006 to launch a Patsy’s stand in Floyd Bennett Field.

Grimaldi’s [19 Old Fulton St. between Front and Water streets in DUMBO, (718) 858-4300] until Nov. 28. For info, visit www.grimaldisnyc.com and www.no1-frontstreet.com.

Reach Kate Briquelet at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.