Fired Up: DUMBO’s Grimaldi’s Owner Sues Over New Pizzeria Next Door

The enduring tug of war over DUMBO’s Grimaldi’s Pizza is heating up again, this time over its coal ovens.
Frank Ciolli, who purchased the Grimaldi’s name for $500,000 in 1998, charges pizza legend Patsy Grimaldi with illegally installing a coal brick oven at 19 Old Fulton Street. But there’s more to the tiff: After a decade in retirement, Grimaldi, 81, plans to open Juliana’s, a new pizza joint in the same building where he used to rent in DUMBO—next door to Ciolli’s pizzeria.

“He’s stealing my goodwill. How dare he move into the same location,” Ciolli told the New York Daily News. He’s sued to block Juliana’s from opening, citing a non-compete clause. Grimaldi contends the agreement expired three years ago. Meanwhile, the Grimaldi family says its coal oven is merely being refurbished. Read the Daily News story here.

Photo: Gina Peluso and staff at Grimaldi’s on Fulton St. in DUMBO/NYDN)

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  • Boerum Bill

    Brick oven joints are popping up everywhere too fast anyway. These carcinogenic pies are the Tom Hanks of cuisine.

  • David on Middagh

    There is a frequent commenter here whom you just *know* would be delighted if one of these crispy-crust establishments took his sobriquet to name a pie. But what type, and which toppings…?

  • Gerry

    @ David on Middagh – i would not buy that pie no way – a pie named Crusty – BARF

  • Mr. Crusty

    It would be an instant classic I imagine. Anything that earns Gerry’s disapprobation has to be a winner.

  • coal

    Wait, didnt Frank Ciolli install illegally a coal brick oven as well? I recall a construction stop order for it.

  • David on Middagh

    @ Gerry — “BARF”?~!

    BARF delicious, crusty pizza?! Just the opposite. I would FRAB that pie, mmmmmm…. just frab it.

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

    /chortle

  • bagel boy

    What will we do when the mayor’s term is up? We have been so lucky to have him at the helm. His term should be extended again.

    The others in line are so inferior. Have no experience. No skills. Bunk. Bunk.

  • Mr. Crusty

    David perhaps you need to adjust your meds a tad.

  • Monty

    A brick oven isn’t a coal oven. A standard brick oven is just a gas oven with bricks in it to retain heat. That being said my current favorite is Pizza Moto with their mobile wood-fired oven. They are a regular at smorgasburg.

  • DIBS

    Saraghina has a real WOOD-FIRED oven.

  • Aurelie

    Table 87 on Atlantic Avenue. Just try it… ! You won’t need to wait in line, besides.

  • DrewB

    Aurelie.. I agree 100%. I wouldn’t stand in that Grimaldi’s like if you paid, though I’ve noticed the line is much shorter at the new location. Table 87 is wonderful!

  • http://julianhsiung.com Julian

    Griamldi has quite stiffy attitudes and they overcharge with toppings and keep your change as well.
    I am glad there is another Pizza opens up at their next door. This will cool off their pissy attitudes and kick their bud.

  • Gerry

    @ Bagel Boy – I agree Mayor Bloomberg has done an excellent job and he maintained the remarkable hold on crime that Mayor Rudy Gullianni had implemented.

  • yoohoo

    @ DrewB, Grimaldi’s lines extended almost down to Water Street all through the summer and fall, and people were still lined up just before 11 p.m. If the lines have now become shorter, it’s due to winter setting in. Even Brooklyn Bridge Park is empty during the week.

    If Patsy Grimaldi can recapture his former clientele with his thin, crusty pies at Juliana’s – I raise my glass to him. He shouldn’t have sold the name in the first place. The current Grimaldi’s has certainly capitalized on the name by branching out to Northern Boulevard and to Las Vegas.

  • gh

    Table 87 is infinitely superior. Competition would be good for Grimaldi’s generally.

  • PBL

    Agree 100% about Table 87 … I will let these two duke it out and enjoy the hood’s best pizza on Atlantic. If you haven’t eaten there, just do it … and if the burata pizza is available, start there. Amazing. Smother on that roasted garlic spread that is tableside … damn, I need to go there tonight.

  • http://Socioqueen Heather

    I’ve heard great things about Table 87! This Grimaldi’s business needs to get over itself. Instead of standing behind their product and improving their run of the mill, totally overrated and out of the way joint, they are busy stepping on everyone else including Grimaldi! What does that say about the owner, his intentions, and what he really cares about? It ain’t the sauce or the dough. Get your head outta the oven!

  • FKAHenry

    Grimaldi’s is the most overrated pizzeria in NY, and they’re remarkably obnoxious to boot. Their pizza is no more than adequate, and often not even that. Certainly not close to Lucali, or Sam’s (haven’t tried Table 87 yet). I hope Patsy’s new place blows it away.

  • Hicks on Hicks

    Grimaldi’s = Over-rated.

  • Anon

    Anon December 10, 2012 at 12:34 am #
    Please. Neither of these is in DUMBO. They are in the Fulton Ferry Landing Historic District. If the seemingly unrelenting creep of DUMBO’s boundaries in press/blog reports is unchecked, this blog may find its own neighborhood becoming known as part of DUMBO.

  • fultonferryres

    Regina Myer of BBP is as guilty as the media is of rebranding Fulton Ferry as Dumbo. After all, she is responsible for putting out an RFP for the boiler house under the Bridge (which she has named the Smokestack building) which gives the location as Dumbo. Gran Electrica also advertises itself as being located in Dumbo.

  • Joe

    I would welcome the original Patsy’s pizza if it is anything close to what it used to be pre-1998 and also Grimaldi’s could use some competition. Grimaldi’s in it’s present state is just terrible: long lines, awful service and soggy pies. I stopped going 5 years ago but the truth is they probably don’t care since their business model is all about attracting tourists who are not likely to complain/care about the long lines, awful service and soggy pies.

    I don’t begrudge Grimaldi’s business model but the overall product is just terrible for anyone who cares about not to being treated like cattle & fed supar food.

  • Diana

    Grimaldi’s pizza is not very good – way too salty crust and the service leaves a great deal to be desired. I see them every day I walk past – dough sitting by the window in the sun (eewwww!). They do ‘okay’ because everyone who lines up every weekend are out-of-towners – making a first and only visit …

    I’ll be VERY HAPPY to see the new place open and can’t wait to try it out. Still, there’s some very good pizza just up the road on Henry Street (about a five – eight minute walk away). Friendly family business and always busy but no line. ; )

  • Ex-Res

    Grimaldi’s is way overrated. I seriously think their business would be mediocre at best. What makes them profitable isn’t their pizza, it’s the oven and the name, which puts them into every tourist/travel book. I could list dozens of pizzerias that I would choose before Grimaldi’s. I’d love to see Juliana’s cater more to the locals.

    It’ll be interesting to see what effect this has on Grimaldi’s, I also wonder if they will survive the move to No. ! Front St., since no restaurant has survived in this building over the last 20 years.

  • Jay

    Grimaldi’s is way over-rated. It is a tourist trap anyway. Not far from it, on water street, is Ignazio’s – great thin crust pizza.

  • http://www.collins.net.pr Dean Collins

    lol should have insisted on a longer non-compete agreement and a boundary radius clause wouldnt have hurt either….though at 81 who would have thought he was coming back out of retirement :)