Grimaldi’s DUMBO To Reopen As Part Of Owner’s Son’s National Chain: Gothamist

Grimaldi’s, February 2019. (Jen Carlson / Gothamist)

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Renowned Arizona pizzeria Grimaldi’s is finally opening up an outpost in Brooklyn, in an extremely iconic location the pizza-loving among you will surely recognize: 1 Front Street in DUMBO.

Ha ha what?!?!?!

If you find yourself feeling a little turned around by that news, don’t worry, I’m right there with you. In short, the original Grimaldi’s (heretofore owned by Frank Ciolli) is being subsumed by its spawn, the spinoff national chain of the same name. Frank’s son, Joseph Ciolli, serves as CEO of that company, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. Joseph is consolidating the original Grimaldi’s under his corporate umbrella, and on March 29th, will reopen the famous pizza parlor that’s been mysteriously shuttered for months.

In a statement, Joseph said he was “very excited to welcome the original, historic Grimaldi’s location” to the family, the same family that birthed it.

“The Brooklyn pizzeria is the inspiration for all of our other locations,” he added, perhaps to help me personally puzzle out this arrangement, “and we look forward to continuing to serve the iconic Grimaldi’s coal-fired brick-oven pizzas at the One Front Street location that generations have come to love.”

It’s a confusing twist in an already bamboozling saga, so allow me to briefly recap: Grimaldi’s appeared to shut its doors in January, ostensibly to complete some quick renovations. As a tipster brought to our attention in February, however, trucks had been seen carting huge amounts of debris away from the premises, even though building permits reflected minor updates in the kitchen. The renovations also dragged on for longer than notices on the door originally projected, and audio from a hearing in a legal dispute between Joseph and the people who sublet the 1 Front Street location to his father mentioned both bankruptcy on Frank’s part, and Joseph’s purported plans for continued operation.

It was all very murky and convoluted.

Today, however, it seems that Grimaldi’s-classic will finally return, sort of…? This refurbished Brooklyn Grimaldi’s will showcase, according to the press release, “family-friendly comfortable rustic décor,” while “the restaurant’s design will feature Grimaldi’s signature red and white gingham tablecloths, handcrafted hanging wine bottle chandeliers, and classic black and white still photographs of Brooklyn, NY, the city where the renowned eatery originated.” Further, the menu will boast “authentic, New York-style … offerings,” such as “hand-crafted pizzas, calzones, and antipasto, as well as a variety of specialty desserts made in-house daily.”

All of which is to say, as far as I can tell, it will be the same Grimaldi’s vibe that’s been exported to franchises around the country, recycled back to the original location.

According to the press release, the original Grimaldi’s was “previously managed as an independent restaurant under license” by Grimaldi’s national. We have asked Grimaldi’s national for clarification as to the series of events that led us here, and will update if we hear back. In the meantime, according to a communications rep for the chain, “There will not be any change in ownership to the Grimaldi’s location in Chelsea and on 6th avenue,” because Joseph’s company has “no affiliations with these locations.” Both are closed and will, it seems, remain closed.


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