If you’re looking for good pizza in Scottsdale or Phoenix, you have options. There are a number of places that have great pizza by the slice (Ray’s being one of my old favorites) and quite a few that offer some artisan pizzas (think more Picazzo’s) but there are only a handful of places that have must-try pizza. I’d say Pizzeria Bianco and Pomo are two of those must-try places. This week I went to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Old Town Scottsdale because I’ve been itching to go for a while and I wanted to see if they rank in that last category. What I got was some damn good pizza but completely different than Bianco or Pomo in some ways. Here’s the rundown of what we tested.
Grimaldi’s menu offers base pizzas that you can choose toppings for instead of preselected combinations. They have a basic tomato sauce recipe, white sauce with garlic recipe, and a pesto pizza to choose from. We went with a large basic tomato sauce pizza and added sausage and basil. Toppings range from $2 to $4 and the waitress said a large feeds 4-5 people (we beg to differ). There were 3 of us and we all had different ideas for toppings, so we agreed that Becky choose the salad and Jeff and I choose the toppings. She went with the Antipasto (large). For drinks, Becky and I opted for the house wines that are only $4 a glass. Too good of a deal to pass up.
Wine came out first and the red I ordered was decent enough (hey…$4!) to sip while we waited. Becky’s Pinot Grigio was way too sweet for me but that’s what she prefers. Our Antipasto came out next and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking it would look like Oregano’s style of antipasto but it came out with no lettuce and wasn’t mixed together. It did however have a side plate of about 10 bruschettas that are intended to hold the different items, so I was happy to have antipasto sandwiches. Mixed with a little balsamic and olive oil, it was a decent starter to the meal.
As we waited for the pizza, I read a little history about the place and learned that they have someone put minerals in their water to make it taste like the water in New York City. I’ve heard stories about shop owners claiming this is what makes all the difference but I had never seen someone intentionally recreate the water. Pretty cool to me! They also use coal to fire the oven and cook the pies, which gives a crispier crust than wood fired or gas ovens most times. Our’s came out and it was crispier for sure, but not so crispy that it turned into a cracker-like thin crust (I’m looking at you Oregano’s).
The sausage and basil combination was a hit. Together with their sauce and fresh mozzarella it was like a Margherita pizza with Italian sausage. The pie was pretty good size too, but for some reason it just wasn’t filling enough to justify it’s 4-5 person claim. However, every bite was delicious and I was impressed with the bite to the tomato sauce. That can make or ruin a pizza to me so I was happy to see they nailed a good recipe.
After the pizza left us feeling slightly full but not packed, the waitress told us they had a seasonal cheesecake made with pumpkin and Becky and I looked at each other with that expression that says “I want it but I’m gonna let you make the call”. I nodded and the waitress came back with a good sized slice. It was fantastic! It had a great consistency to it so when I ran a fork through it the fork would sort of glide through with little push back. And it tasted amazing, I’d have to say it was equally as good as the pizza which was the main reason we came.
Other than that, the whole experience was fun. The Old Town Scottsdale location is a bit cramped partly because they put all the tables next to each other with the seat backs almost touching, but with the kitchen in open view and a bar alongside the wall the ambiance is good. They also have a large patio and separate rooms for groups or banquets. I’d say this is a good weekday destination but weekends can be a little too crowded for me.
Grimaldi’s is a solid choice if you’re looking for better than average pizza but I’m hesitant to say they rank up there with the Bianco’s and Pomo’s of the Valley. That said, they still deserve a visit because they’re passionate about their pizza and it shows through in the end.
Tip: Get dessert! They have cannolis and cheesecake and including the ones I saw at other tables, they all looked good.