Patsy Grimaldi's Fall From Grace

Patsy Grimaldi came out of retirement for this?Photo: Josh Ozersky

Such is our reverence for Patsy Grimaldi, the pizza patriarch behind Grimaldis, that when we heard word, via Slice, that he had come out of retirement to cook slices at the Aviator Sports Complex at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, we immediately began saving gas money to make the trip. The place is so remote all the way down Flatbush Avenue, just before the Marine Parkway Bridge that you practically need to be Hernando de Soto to find it. Its a kids paradise, with two NHL-size ice rinks, indoor soccer, basketball courts, and the rest. But for the unathletic children, of course, the real draw is the food court, where you can find Schnck burgers, cheesecake from Juniors, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory desserts, and, yes, Patsys pizza. Are those slices worth the epic journey?

Not yet. Patsys immense gas-burning oven, rumored to be so super-hot as to approach the temperatures of his Dumbo restaurants coal ovens, is actually tepid in comparison. The pies cook quickly enough, but the bottom crust barely chars. And the young flunkies executing the masters design are still getting the hang of how to actually make pizza; the amount of sauce, the placement of the cheese, and other subtleties all seemed haphazard. (They will gladly reheat slices, though, which we recommend.)

The main problem is with the cheese. Weve never really believed that fresh fiore di latte, the kind used at Grimaldis, could get the job done without any help from the greasy "mozzarella" we all came to know in our youth. The fresh product never really mixes with the sauce, and only a volcanic heat can lock in the moisture. The low-power Aviator ovens dry the cheese out by the time the pizza is cooked; it just sits there like an old bath mat, barely registering on your consciousness. And by the time you order a slice, the crust has become soggy as well. This pizza wasnt worth the trip from the parking lot, much less Manhattan or Park Slope. But weve heard it said that Rome wasnt built in a day. Well go back soon and see if Patsy can still work his magic.