Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria

Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

There are a handful of Grimaldi’s pizzerias in Arizona, owned and operated by sons of the owner (no longer Patsy Grimaldi, incidentally) of Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. We’ve only visited the one in Old Town Scottsdale (they’ve been expanding: there are now six in AZ, three in Texas, and one in Vegas), but in our experience the pizza is superior to the pies found at the Brooklyn original.

Our first visit to an Arizona Grimaldi’s came about by way of an aborted attempt to sample Chris Bianco’s legendary pizzas. The process of securing a table at Pizzeria Bianco can be onerous, and we were forced into looking for an alternative. So Grimaldi’s it was.

Grimaldi’s uses a coal-fired brick oven, just like in the Brooklyn store. The pies are built in much the same way, too, from the good crushed canned tomato (not sauce) right down to the sparse scattering of fresh basil. What we most appreciate, though, is the chewy-crisp, smoky pizza crust (but we recommend telling them you like your pies well-cooked, because they’ve learned that the locals are turned off by East Coast burnt spots). For some reason, the Brooklyn crust just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor, and can be flabby-textured, in our opinion. And we always fall for superior fresh bread.

The chunks of juicy Italian sausage are excellent. If you love fresh mozzarella, know that the white pie is blanketed rim to rim with the stuff. We would recommend a request for extra fresh basil (extra charge) so that every slice could feature a fresh bite of the fragrant herb.

Like everywhere in spacious Arizona, the restaurant is roomy, with that shiny-happy midscale-chain aura, and there’s plenty of parking. What Scottsdale’s Grimaldi’s lacks in character, it makes up for in first-class pizza.

What To Eat

Large Pizza with Half Italian Sausage

Large White with Garlic Pizza

Small Pizza with Sausage, Olives, Mushrooms, Basil

Small Pizza with Pepperoni and Olives

Small Pizza with Sausage, Mushrooms, Extra Basil

Mediterranean Salad

Small Pizza with Pepperoni and Bell Pepper


Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria Recipes


What do you think of Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria?

One Response to “Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria”

Chris & Amy Ayers

January 6th, 2008

We’d never wish for it, of course, but if we ever found ourselves on Death Row, Grimaldi’s pizza would be our last meal request. Everything about this pizza screams perfection: the slightly burnt crust, baked in a coal-fired oven; the freshest-of-fresh toppings; and the extraordinarily aromatic tomatoes used as sauce (but not in the traditional sense of covering the entire surface of the crust, as these are spooned on curiously amongst the toppings at the end of the process).

Located across the street from the famous Sugar Bowl ice cream parlor, Grimaldi’s seems a bit nouveau riche (much like the swanky Ra sushi house two blocks down) in Old Town Scottsdale, an area known for its western boutiques and touristy nightlife. Their plush veneer, however, cannot possibly hide what is “the most award winning pizza in America,” as the menu boasts. Wanting to save room for dessert at the Sugar Bowl, we ordered a small pizza with Italian sausage, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, and extra basil, and fountain root beer to drink. Fortuitously, our table was right next to the open kitchen, so we got to watch our pie being assembled. First, the dough was hand-thrown and arranged on a wooden peal. Thick slices of fresh mozzarella and thumb-sized “pinches” (the chef grabbed a handful of raw sausage, squeezed little balls between his fingers, and flicked them on the pie) of Italian sausage were then added, along with whole Kalamata olives and mushrooms. Finally, the crushed tomatoes were dabbed on artfully, and fresh basil leaves were scattered over the surface before the pie was thrust into the oven.

The aroma of the pizza as it arrived at our table was utterly intoxicating, and the taste combination of the sausage, olives, and basil was enough to send us into the Roadfood afterlife. This is a fork-and-knife pie, at least until 60-70% of the piece is eaten, and the outside crust can handle the weight and can be lifted off the plate for portable consumption. Every bite was genuinely superlative, and the Mug (a brand that we’d normally avoid) root beer had a head and an unexpected creaminess that flawlessly complemented the pizza.

Having yet to sample Grimaldi’s pizza in Brooklyn, we can’t compare the two. However, this is one of the best pies, if not the best, that we’ve ever eaten—and that includes all the big names (New Haven and beyond) from our home state of Connecticut. Aside from the two other locations in greater Phoenix (in North Scottsdale and Chandler), their fame has allowed them to open satellite stores in Tucson, Las Vegas, and Dallas. Grimaldi’s is our new favorite pizza, and this was one of our top dining experiences of our lives.


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