Unless you live or work in the South Bay, you may have missed the fact that Grimaldi's Pizzeria opened a spacious location in El Segundo earlier this year. Yes, this Grimaldi's is related - in a second-cousin-twice-removed sort of way - to the original Brooklyn pizzeria that Patsy Grimaldi opened in 1990 after years of working for his uncle, one of New York's original pizza masters, Patsy Lancieri.
The story stretches. Five years after Patsy Grimaldi sold his pizzeria to the Ciolli family in 1998, the first location of Grimaldi's opened outside of the tri-state area. There are now Grimaldi's pizzerias in New Jersey and South Carolina, throughout Texas and in Denver. Grimaldi's El Segundo marks the chain's fortieth location.
The nearly 200-seat restaurant and bar resides inside of a shiny SoCal business complex. It has the polish of a franchised operation, though all units are still privately owned. There's little in the way of imported Brooklyn grit. See a black and white photo of Frank Sinatra here, catch a whiff of floury soot there. Kitschy chandeliers are made of wine bottles and faux foliage. The attention to detail carries over to the menu.
"From the beginning we understood that duplicating New York water would be a key to our success. Over the years we have been focused on the chemical balance of duplicating it, perfectly. We have spent a lot of time fine tuning, calibrating and tasting," says Cory Lattuca, who is in charge of kitchen operations for the company.
Lattuca has crafted a recipe, based on the one Patsy Grimaldi created, that produces a consistent product at each of 40 locations nationwide. Comparing it to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn circa 1990 gets into all sorts of questions of authenticity and nostalgia and a baker's hands. Let's just say instead that the dough at Grimaldi's in El Segundo gets the job done.
There's a house salad dressed in red wine vinaigrette, 12-, 16- and 18-inch pies ($9 to $16; toppings are extra) and crisp, mini-chocolate chip studded cannoli. There's certainly nothing wrong with freshly-filled cannoli. Now open daily from 11 a.m.
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