The local newspaper that covers both Williamsburg and DUMBO — my old Brooklyn Paper — was on top of them both.
Grimaldi’s moved to the front page when First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha showed up and downed three pies (one classic Margherita, one with pepperoni and sausage, one with mushrooms, peppers and onions), according to The Brooklyn Paper’s Andy Campbell.
The pizzeria — next to the Brooklyn Bridge — is a magnet for both tourists and New York’s famously snobbish pizzerati. A stressed staff, no slices (whole pies only), a keep-your-stinkin’-credit-card-in-your-pocket cash-only operation (shut down last year for not paying sales tax), and a don’t-complain-about-waiting-outside-in-the-rain-for an-hour-to-get-in vibe — that’s the price Grimaldi’s fans gladly pay for a taste of thin crust brick oven heaven.
Waiter Rafal Harajda, who served the First Family, told The Paper that customers kept their distance — more out of respect than fear of the heavy security.
Two neighborhoods over, in Williamsburg, where black-coated, sideburn-swinging Satmar Hassids split the turf with fast-moving young hipsters, the Hassids were keeping a close eye on the clock. With Passover just days away, they were busy completing orders for a product even crispier than the one offered by Grimaldi’s — shmura matzoh. “Shmura” means “watched”; the process of making matzoh must take exactly 18 minutes, no more, no less … it’s carefully watched, as is everything leading up to the baking (from the moment the wheat is harvested, an religiously-observant Jew keeps an open eye).
For The Brooklyn Paper’s Gersh Kuntzman and Aaron Short — joined by their team’s “noted non-Jew” Vince DiMiceli” — erev Passover was taste-test time:
Passover begins tonight (Monday March 29). Lechaim (to life)!
Matzoh photo by Aaron Short in The Brooklyn Paper. Michelle Obama photo by Tom Callan in The Brooklyn Paper.