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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Dining review: Satisfy pizza cravings at Grimaldi’s

Warning: You’d better be in the mood for pizza if you plan a visit to Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria.

The menu is only one page, focusing on one thing. Yep, you guessed it. Pizza.

No pasta. No burgers. No wings. No kids’ menu.

That said, the focus on limited menu items pays off for pizza lovers. (The menu does include calzones and salads.)

Grimaldi’s is a growing pizza chain that originated in Brooklyn, N.Y. There are now three locations in the Tampa Bay area. We tried the most recent addition, which opened at West-Shore Plaza in April.

Walking into the restaurant is reminiscent of stepping into a New York City pizzeria.

Frank Sinatra croons from the speakers. Large black-and-white photos of iconic New York City locations and celebrity Rat Packers adorn the walls. Wine bottles are fashioned into very cool DIY-looking chandeliers.

At the entrance, a pizza maker tosses dough into the air.

One difference: the few TVs were showing the Buccaneers game vs. the Jets or Giants. There was even a little cheering — albeit briefly.

One positive thing to note about the noise — or lack thereof — in the restaurant: The TV volume was off and the music was just the right volume, allowing diners to carry on a conversation. Too often at restaurants nowadays, you resort to shouting across the table, an instant mood killer.

Now back to pizza.

Grimaldi’s has three types: white with garlic (no sauce), red sauce and mozzarella, and pesto. You can choose from three different sizes: personal (12 inch — $9/$10); small (16 inch — $14/$16); large (18 inch — $16/$18). The toppings ($2-$4) are numerous (we counted 24) and range from oven-roasted sweet peppers to grilled chicken. It’s all New York style, of course.

We opted for a personal size with red sauce, mushrooms, green peppers and onions and another personal pesto with sun-dried tomatoes and mini pepperoni.

Both were crispy and light and weren’t overloaded with too much mozzarella, so they weren’t greasy. The pesto was a nice change from the traditional red sauce, and who knew mini pepperoni could be so cute?

We were initially worried the personal sizes wouldn’t be enough for two but we ended up taking enough home for another meal. The slices heated up nicely in the oven.

The kids gobbled up a personal size cheese pizza.

We started with a caprese salad ($8), which was plenty for two people. One of us thought the tomatoes could be a little riper, but other thought they were just right. The balsamic vinegar on the table was nice accompaniment.

Desserts include cheesecake (New York style, Oreo cookie and seasonal selections), cannoli and tiramisu. We were tempted by the caramel apple seasonal cheesecake, which was perfectly rich and had small pieces of apple mixed in. It was more than plenty for four of us to share.

There’s an extensive wine list and beer options, with several options on draft.

Our waiter was extremely — but not overly — attentive, even remembering to refill the kids’ water cups.

We’ll be adding Grimaldi’s to our lists of pizzerias the entire family enjoys.

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