Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Frank Ciolli – owner of the famous Grimaldi's Pizza in DUMBO, Brooklyn – is smoking mad at pizza's patron saint Patsy Grimaldi, 81.
Ciolli always says he bought the Grimaldi's Pizza name from him back in 1998 for half a million dollars, and Patsy Grimaldi officially retired.
Now, however, Grimaldi is getting back into business: he plans to open Juliana's, a new pizza place in his old digs at 19 Old Fulton Street – right next door to the present-day Grimaldi’s.
According to the New York Daily News, Ciolli is striking back, charging Grimaldi's with illegally installed a coal-burning brick oven at the old site. The city rarely issues new licenses for the old-fashioned polluting ovens.
Sources told the News, however, that he's just fixing up the old oven, not installing a new one.
Grimaldi's placed a notice on Craigslist Friday advertising for pizza servers, saying, "Legendary pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi and wife Carol return to their original (but totally updated) location under the Brooklyn Bridge. Juliana's (named in honor of Pat's mom) is a full-service, New York-style pizza emporium serving traditional and inventive pies in the blazingly hot coal-fired hearth as only Patsy can. The restaurant has 65 seats and will be open seven days a week from noon to 11 p.m."
The pizza oven wars have a long and tangled history at Grimaldi's.
Two years ago Ciolli was evicted from 19 Old Fulton Street after failing to pay his rent on time. He was himself charged with illegally installing a coal-burning brick oven into 1 Front St. when he moved in.
On top of this, Ciolli sued the landlord at 19 Old Fulton St. for allegedly scheming to steal the brick ovens.
All this is apparently just too much for Grimaldi. In October, he said that Ciolli ran the restaurant's "good reputation into the ground," according to the NY Post.
More details about Grimaldi's history at the Nona Brooklyn blog.
Denizens of DUMBO are watching as Brooklyn artist David Ellis transforms the famously green swath of art and benches into a multi-colored mural. Thursday was Day 1 of a four- or five-day art project.