Patsy Grimaldi made pizza for more than 60 years, first at Patsy's Pizza in Harlem under his uncle, then at some other NYC coal-fired pizzerias, and finally at Grimaldi's, the restaurant he opened with his wife, Carol, on Old Fulton Street in DUMBO in 1990. After building an international following for that parlor, the owner was ready to retire, and in 1999 he sold the business, brand, and name. A few years later, though, Grimaldi became distressed by the legacy of his coal-fired pizzeria, and so he began to toy with the idea of getting back into the business. When Grimaldi's was evicted from its original home, Grimaldi partnered with Matthew Grogan, a longtime fan and former Wall Street warrior, and came out of retirement to reclaim the address — and the original coal-fired oven. After the space went through a major renovation — everything had to be replaced, refurbished, or rebuilt — they opened Juliana's in December 2012. They've added classic pasta dishes, soups, salads, desserts, and egg creams to the menu, and they've upgraded the wine list and added draft beer to account for the neighborhood’s changing tastes. But the team hasn't broken from the original vision at Grimaldi's: They're obsessively focused on preserving a slice of New York pizza history. "We are trying to redefine what authentic New York–style pizza is," says Grogan. "We're not trying to be Neapolitan, Roman, Sicilian — it's New York–style pizza, the way it was introduced in the early twentieth century." The coal-fired oven turns out pies built on crisp and airy crusts with the yeasty complexity of fresh-baked bread. For the margherita, which remains the signature pizza here, the mozzarella is soft and creamy, the sauce vibrant and piercing, the basil fresh and verdant. All flavors come into focus with a last-minute hit of salt, applied after the pie comes out of the oven and rests, bubbling, on the pass.
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