If you love pizza, I mean really love pizza, you will want to become a warrior in the legendary pizza feud between Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s, located next door to each other under the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighbourhood.
Required reading: New York pizza feuds
Others have done the story far greater justice than I ever could. To get caught up on why you should care about this pizza feud, I recommend New York Magazine‘s 2012 article “How Patsy Grimaldi, the 81-year old New York Pizza Legend, Is Getting His Good Name Back.”
If you’re hooked, you need to hear more from the legends themselves, Patsy and Carol Grimaldi. Dan Pashman of The Sporkful podcast spoke with them in 2012, prior to Carol’s passing in 2014. It’s a great listen (25 minutes) and gives even more insight into what it takes to be a New York pizza legend.
On to the challenge. Both pizzerias use top ingredients and coal-fired ovens, a rarity because they’ve since been banned and would be reason enough to visit either. I visited both places over a few trips and have eaten the same thing every time: a classic Margherita pizza – tomato, mozzarella and basil – with a local soda.
In this corner: Grimaldi’s
I first visited Grimaldi’s (1 Front Street, corner of Old Fulton St) with A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, where I got a thorough history of the Grimaldi’s vs. Juliana’s story, and taught everything I needed to know about good pizza and GREAT pizza.
Grimaldi’s is famous and it is popular. Lines form early and there’s almost always a waitlist to get in. Inside, it’s crowded and noisy, with lots of energy, shouting and pizza. You are taken to a seat wherever there is room, and singles, pairs, and smaller groups will get seated faster.
Pizzas are served up hot and fresh, as soon as they are ready. They are sold one way: whole, so take a friend or a hearty appetite.
In the other corner: Juliana’s
After eating at Grimaldi’s, I didn’t know what to expect at Juliana’s (19 Old Fulton St). We got there a few minutes before it opened, and there was already a short line waiting to get in. At 11:30 am on the dot, the doors opened and we were warmly greeted and immediately seated, close to the coal-fired oven.
Juliana’s occupies the building that was the original Grimaldi’s, before it moved to the corner. Where Grimaldi’s has a more old-New York feel, Juliana’s is cozier and more modern. We were starving, so put our pie order in right away.
As we started on our pizza, the place quickly filled up, and we found ourselves surrounded by families and groups of friends like ours. We joked with the staff and ordered some dessert.
While eating pizza of this quality is always a delight, I will pick a winner: Juliana’s! It combines the history, food, ambiance and customer service to endear it to me and my friends immediately and guarantee a return visit.
Now that you’re hungry, head over to Brooklyn for your own Pizza Dynasty Challenge. The shops are conveniently located next to each other under the Brooklyn Bridge on Old Fulton St, near Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Fulton Ferry Landing.
If you’re visiting New York for the first time, the best way to get to both shops is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, so you can marvel at the spectacle that is New York. You can also take the A or C trains to the High Street Station and walk over, which is a bit of hike, but you’re richly rewarded in pizza.
More reading: A History of New York’s Feuding Pizza Dynasties
What do you think? Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s? Where’s your favourite pizza in Brooklyn? New York? Anywhere else? Fire away in the comments or tweet me at @bitesizedtravel on Twitter!