Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pizza ~ Grimaldi's in Brooklyn

#111 - go for pizza in all 5 boros; Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx & Staten Island (Brooklyn 11/5/11)

I love pizza!
I love pizza on my pizza...if it were available!
I love all kinds of pizza....
extra black olives
fresh garlic

Oh name it, I have probably tried it!

Living in New York makes you self-assured about a few things & pizza is one of them!  Don't try to debate won't win.  And I don't want to upset you, but New York is home to the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!

There....I stated the truth....we can now move on....

Having grown up in Queens, I proudly live in an amazing borough that has amazing pizza places all around. can't stand outside of one pizza place without being able to throw a rock & hit another pizza place!  But they all do good business because everyone loves pizza.

So I added #111...the pizza mission to my list of celebrations.  I've decided to force myself to go to various places for pizza.  I figured it's time to get to the other boroughs for a change & see if they can beat my favorite pizza place.  For the record, I swear by Centre Pizza in Little Neck, NY.  They make amazing pizza!

Today we start in Brooklyn, NY & we are going to Grimaldi's.

Joining me on this tastey mission are Rennick & his daughter, Celia.  Since we started this day with the walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, we end up here on Old Front Street in front of Grimaldi's.  This is Rennick's 'go to' place in Brooklyn, but only when you have plenty of time to on!

Ahhh Grimaldi's...the first pizza joint I've been to in New York that doesn't sell by the slice!  Oh at Grimaldi's you must buy the whole arrive with friends...or just arrive really hungry!  And bring cash for Grimaldi's does not accept plastic!

Oh & one prepared to wait on a crazy long line!  I'm not telling a tall tale here...the line will make you nuts, make you hungry or drive you insane!

This is my first visit to Grimaldi's & will probably be my only visit...unless some friends from out of town beg me to take them here!  My fellow New Yorkers will not want to brave the long line for pizza.  When I mentioned this event to people, I was told I was nuts for waiting as long as we did for pizza.  Especially as a friend reminded me, 'I'm sure there were a ton of other pizza places around'.  True....but I wanted to wait.  I wanted to try Grimaldi's.

Rennick, Celia & I will brave this long line for 80 minutes to be invited in.
80 minutes.
One hour & twenty minutes.
4,800 seconds.
Or as I like to think of it...eternity.

Holy cow!
Is pizza really worth that long of a wait? New York pizza really worth that long of a wait?
Hmm....let me come back to that questions a little later in the on...

There we were braving the wait.  The anticipation of getting pizza made us cranky.  The desire of feeding the pizza craving drove us nuts!  There was talk of walking away...but somehow we didn't.  We stayed.  We braved it.

80 minutes!!!!

The line is filled with New Yorkers & tourists.  You can hear the distinct accents.

One note to Europeans & other tourists on the subject of personal space.
Learn what it is & learn that you should respect it.  Please don't stand on my heels or be up against me.  There really is no need for me to keep hitting you.  As a New Yorker, I tend to flail when I talk, so if I hit you, I shouldn't have to apologize.  You should move back after the second hit.  If you can abide by this, I promise not to give you wrong directions!  Thanks & welcome to New York!

80 minutes!!!!

At some point during this crazy wait, Celia & I will spot the little store right next to Grimaldi's.  It's called Jillian & Julia's.  They sell clothes & souvenirs.  Celia will ask to go in & look around.  After getting the okay from Rennick, we leave the dreaded line.

Inside the store, Celia & I will try on some scarves.  Celia is also quick to try on some hats.  What a little diva!  I love it!  After making a purchase, we get back outside.

I want me to say Rennick moved to the front of the line by that, no luck.  He barely moved a foot!

For the record, I'm surprised he didn't run when he had the chance!

When you're hungry & waiting on line for food, you start thinking about bailing.  Oh trust me...there was a moment when I thought I would cave & run from this long line.  It seriously was the longest wait I have ever had for food! 

And let's face it....there are plenty of other places for pizza in Brooklyn.  Grimaldi's is not the only place for pizza!  So why are we suffering on this line?  Why haven't we bailed & gone someplace else?

Have I mentioned that I am a Taurus & I am highly impatient?????

During this time, Celia will attempt to read her book.  Rennick & I will chat.  The people around us will be engrossed in their own chats.  But all of us have one thing in common today....we were all willing to brave this line for some Grimaldi's pizza! 

I just wonder who else is going to blog about it?

After what clearly was an eternity of waiting...80 minutes...we receive some good news...the next available table for three people is ours!

I felt like sobbing tears of joy.  Even tears of relief!  I almost kissed the nice man who announced the news.

But then the rug was pulled out from under us!

The next table for three people will not be available for about another 20 minutes!!

Seriously...why didn't we bail 70 minutes ago????
Who's bright idea was this?
Why are we still standing in this line?

After the last 20 minutes of waiting, this nice gentleman comes out & points to us.  Our table is now...truly ready!

Tears of joy are streaming down my face.  I must wipe away the tears.  I don't want my mascara to run.

As we are led to our table for three now seriously ravenous people, I am instantly overwhelmed by a delightful aroma.


Let me tell you folks, there is nothing more pleasing to a New Yorker than the smell of great food when you are starving...make that New York food!!!  Even now as I string these words together, I can smell that Grimaldi's pizza.  And even while chewing Trident Spearmint gum, I can taste that pizza still!

The tables are thisclosetogether.  Seriously folks...personal space?  Where has it gone?

There is then the discussion of what we are going to order.  Luckily that discussion is nowhere near as long as our wait to get in!  It's decided we are going to have a pepperoni pizza.  No problem...Love it!!

While we wait, as the pizza is being made, Rennick will remind me to look at the celebrity pictures on the wall.  From where we sat I saw Vince Vaughn & Danny DeVito.

Oh yes, I must point out...according to Rennick, Grimaldi's is a 'glorious institution'.  And yes Rennick, you are right about that!

While we wait for our food, Rennick is amazed to hear Guns N Roses playing.  Apparently someone in Grimaldi's is a fan as they played the whole CD!  This makes Rennick happy. 

And then finally...after 80 minutes of that dreaded long line...we are served a beautiful pepperoni pizza pie!

Again, tears overwhelm me.

I am starving.

I love pizza.

I am happy the wait is FINALLY over!

And then that first delicious!!!

Made with fresh mozzerella, basil & pepperoni on a delightfully thin crust this pizza is amazing!  I must savor ever bite, but I am tempted to jam it into my mouth & grab the rest!  But I cannot.  I must share with two other hungry people at this table...which is fine.  It's the whole point of this celebration.

So now I will post that question New York pizza really worth that long of a wait?

Hell no!  I will never wait that long ever again for pizza!  New York or otherwise!
I can't validate waiting that long ever again!  I did it the whole New Year's Eve in Times Square.  It's a right of passage as a New Yorker to do certain things...but then once done, they don't need to be done again!

But seriously, I can't lie...Grimaldi's pizza was awesome!  Very fresh!  Very delicious!  And yes, I admit it, very much worth the wait!

I will only wait in that line again if Rennick & Celia join me again!  After all, Celia & I can disappear & shop & leave Rennick to hold our spot!  Sorry Rennick...had to throw that in for a good laugh!

Rennick, thank you for getting me to do this.  I actually enjoyed the company & yes, seriously, I would brave a long line wait again with you!

Celia, thank you for the laughs today.  I'm glad I got to share the day with you & your dad.  I hope you two will be available for another celebration sometime soon.

And now for the photos on the day....

This celebration is not considered completed...yet.
I have four more boroughs to visit for pizza.  And I'm looking forward to it!

Once again, feeling good about this celebration mission.  I can't believe I'm still getting people talking about these celebrations.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next celebration...whatever it may be...

#29 - walk across the Brooklyn bridge

Done!  11/5/11

I love being a New Yorker!  I love taking advantage of all that surrounds me living in New York.  The parks, the museums, the zoos, the restuarnats, the people...I love it all!  And I love having five boroughs to choose from.

Ahhh....the five boroughs that make up New York City.  Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, da Bronx & Staten Island...all five broughs with distinct features & attractions.  All five offer a lot to New York & tourists everywhere.

Today I will venture into the second largest borough of NYC...Brooklyn. 

Joining me today is an old friend & a new friend;  Rennick & his daughter, Celia.  They will meet me in Manhattan for the walk into Brooklyn.

It's a gorgeous sunny fall day & this is the perfect day for this walk.  The sun is gracing us with its appearance & warmth.  I love fall in New York.  With the trees turning beautiful shades of red, orange, & yellow there is a chill in the air, but today is still perfect for this celebration.  And what better view than that from the Brooklyn Bridge?

After getting lost due to lack of paying attention to where I was going on the E train, I will eventually meet my guests by City Hall in Manhattan.  Rennick introduces me to his daughter, Celia.  She is adorable!

They were standing near these police officers on horses, Mounties as we call them here.  Celia was busy clicking away taking picture after picture of the cops on their horses.  I joined in! 

Our day kicks off with a history lesson from Rennick.  And since I love acting like a tourist, I will not interupt his lessons.  He points out that the rather large building behind us is in fact the main booking building for New York's Finest.  And he points out across the way where the jail cells are located.  Thanks I know which two buildings to avoid in that area!

After some chatting, we head off to an amazing icon structure....the Brooklyn Bridge.

Opened May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge is one the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.  It connects Manhattan & Brooklyn by spanning the East River.  It was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening untl 1903 & it's the first steel-wire suspension bridge.  In 1964 the Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark & in 1972 it was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Initially designed by German immigrant, John Augustus Roebling who was injured when a ferry pinned his foot against piling, his son Washington Roebling will take over the job.  Sadly, Washington suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness.  Washington's wife, Emily Warren Roebling, took over & relayed her husband's notes to the engineers on the site.  After 13 years, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed & ready for the public.

On May 24, 1883 a total of 1,800 vehicles & 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan & Brooklyn.  Emily Warren Roebling had the honor of being the first person to walk across the bridge.

Fun fact...on May 17, 1884 PT Barnum helped put to rest doubts about the bridge being unstable by leading a parade of elephants across the bridge.  Jumbo, one of his most famous elephants, will lead a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Throughout its time span, the bridge has carried horse-drawn carriages, trolleys, cars, pedestrians & bicyclists from Manhattan to Brooklyn or Brooklyn to Manhattan.  These days there is a line down the middle of the walkway.  One side is meant for pedestrians & the other is meant for bicyclists.  FYI....the bicyclists will gladly yell at you for crossing the line & coming into their way!  They might even run you down!  Hey...this is New York folks!

One morbid notable event...Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women's rights activists Charlotte Odlum Smith, was the first person to jump from the bridge on May 19, 1885 (exactly 86 years before my birth).  He died from internal injuries after hitting the water.

So today we are blessed with this gorgeous fall weather & I am blessed with the company of these two wonderful people.  I am also thankful for my Canon camera that is going to help capture amazing shots on the day.

Rennick once again plays the part of our history guide....he points out the new Freedom Towers going up where the World Trade Center once stood.  For a moment I am silent.  I am remembering the horrible events of that day......

As we make our way along the walkway, we stop to view the South Street Seaport.  I haven't been down there in ages.  I might have to add that to the list of things to do.  I'm sure there are great photo opportunities there for me.  From the bridge I will take some gorgeous pictures of the Seaport.

And what's this?
Padlocks on the Brooklyn Bridge?
What the heck is this about?
And thus begins my creative it comes...
I thought they were there so you could wear the key on a necklace & when someone asks you what the key is for, you could proudly say, 'I have the key to the lock on the Brooklyn Bridge'.
Please note....I am seriously thinking about getting a lock to put onto the bridge!!!

After some research, it turns out I am, well....wrong.
I know....I doesn't happen often, but it does on these rare occasions such as this one, happen.

Turns out this padlock on the bridge is a tradition that started in Italy.  Apparently the idea comes from this book by Italian author, Federico Moccia.  He wrote this book called 'Tre Meti Sopra il Cielo'.  It's about lovers who put padlocks onto a bridge & toss the key into the river.  The book was made into a movie & thus Italians took to putting padlocks onto the Ponte Milvio in Rome & they would toss the key into the Tiber River.  This symbolized the union of the couples bond.

My version is better!

So the Brooklyn Bridge is now littered with padlocks, some with names & dates on them.  And they are everywhere!  On the cables, on the benches, on the railings.....

Is this art?
Is this graffitti?
Is this vandalism?
Is this romantic?
I'll leave it to you to decide.

Celia & I have decided we want to get padlocks & put them on the Brooklyn Bridge.  She states she wants a purple one.  I don't care what color I get.  I just want to wear the key around my neck just so I can tell people I have the key to the lock on the Brooklyn Bridge!  Come version is more creative!

Rennick however feels this is all vandalism & he'll have no part of it.  Luckily for him we won't find any padlocks for least not today.  Oh well....maybe next time I'll remember to buy a padlock before walking over the bridge...

Upon reaching the first archway, we are being tourists by reading the Brooklyn Bridge fact timeline on these plaques.  It's a bunch of fun educational facts.  I should have read them all, but I only read a few.  I'll read them all another time....

We press on.

There are a lot of people walking today.  And everyone is going in both directions.  There are a few bicyclists, but I am staying out of their lane, so they ignore me.

Once we arrive in Brooklyn, I'm looking forward to our next stop.  But I am thrilled to be greeted by Brooklyn.  I am excited about what awaits us.  I am happy to be in the most diverse borough in the world.  And I am thankful that I waited till 40 to do this walk.

Once again....I'm feeling great about these 40 celebrations.  I don't think at 20 or 30 I would have appreciated all this fun.

With this celebration completed, I have done 14 of the 40 celebrations.  26 more to go.  Hard to believe it was a little over a year ago when I started this blog & started planning these events!