Elsewhere in this blog, you can read The Pizza Snob’s synopsis of the history of legendary-pizzamaker Patsy Grimaldi as well as my review of the current Brooklyn location. While that place still offers an amazing example of coal-fired pizza, in recent years, Grimaldi’s has also created a chain of 50 locations over a dozen states. Curious, but cautious, I have been passing on opportunities to see how their formula travels. However, with so few pizza options in the Destin area, I thought the time was right to finally give one a try.
The Destin-area Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria is located east of the area known as Sandestin in the large upscale Grand Boulevard shopping center. It sits in a food section at the far east end attached to a Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and a yogurt shop. I made a solo visit on a cloudy afternoon around 3pm and found myself their lone indoor customer. While there were a few groups dining outside on the large patio, I chose the air conditioning over the heat and humidity.
Told to pick my table, I opted for a small two-seater across from the bar where I had a full view of the New York-themed room and the big TVs atop the bar. My waitress asked me if I had been before, and I cheekily replied that I’d been to the one in Brooklyn. After her “Oh, that’s nice,” I ordered the small Margherita ($13.00) and read their pizza paraphernalia while I waited.
It was soon pizza time, and my server made me chuckle when he chose not to put my pie atop the silver platform citing past calamities of falling pies (“I want you to eat it, not wear it.”). Although this was obviously not Brooklyn, my little pizza looked the part, and I could tell that it was going to be good. I soon discovered that it also tasted the part, and I’m rather surprised to admit that Formula Grimaldi seems to work with flying colors outside of the home base in Brooklyn.
I had no major complaints. My Margherita tasted spot on from its fluffy blotches of fine Mozzarella cheese on top, lightly dabbed with tasty tomato sauce and a few small basil leaves, to the delicately coal-charred chewy crust underneath. My pie was served hot enough to eat without having to wait, and it managed to stay delightfully warm until my final slice #6 was history.
For the first time, it caught my eye that the Grimaldi locations are labeled as “coal brick-oven” which reminded me that a regular brick oven normally burns wood. Now, while there was certainly a coal-flavor to today’s Grimaldi crust, it wasn’t strong enough for my liking. As far as the Snob is concerned, there just can’t be too much coal-flavor on his pizza.
While this was all things considered a fabulous pizza experience, the fact that the coal-flavor volume was turned down a notch and that this just wasn’t Brooklyn, I’ll slip my rating down a notch from the perfect one I gave to the Mother Ship. However, while I will always choose a new local eatery over a chain like this, I certainly will no longer be weary of road-testing another Grimaldi’s as I travel through the USA. Or for that matter, the United Arad Emirates where they will soon be launching five locations!
P.S. A word to the wise to you beach-going families—your kids probably won’t like a Margherita pie. Take them to La Famiglia or JBs instead.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria
780 Grand Boulevard #100
Miramar Beach, FL 32550