There are two reasons you'd try Juliana's Pizza in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood:
1) You respect Patsy Grimaldi, who's been making pizza in NYC for over seventy years.
2) You've heard about the two-hour lines at Grimaldi's and already waited that long for a cronut earlier today.
The short story behind Juliana's is that Mr. Grimaldi retired in 1998 and sold his famous coal-fired pizza business, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, but wanted back in a decade later and opened the new pizzeria in honor of his late mother. There were lawsuits and losses of leases and other shenanigans in the meantime, but in the end, the original coal-fired oven isn't even being used by Grimaldi's anymore, so lunch at Juliana's instead is an easy choice for Patsy Grimaldi devotees.
The menu has the traditional margherita, the white, and all of the toppings you'd expect to see in NYC. Plus capers, smoked scamorza cheese, pistachio pesto, and two different types of olives and mushrooms. My dining partner was enthralled by the table next to ours that appeared to have a salad on top of their pizza, so she and I chose to create our own margherita pizza with arugula and prosciutto, which our friendly server informed us was the No. 4, already laid out on the menu.
To put it simply, Juliana's is perfect traditional coal-fired New-York-style pizza. The sauce is bright and fresh and sweet, and you'll actually be thankful for the stand-out spots where the balls of fresh mozzarella haven't expanded. The toppings I tried were top-notch, plentiful without overpowering the sauce, and added a richness and a bitterness. The pockets of cheese are chewy and stretchy yet delicate, barely there. But it's the crust that's the thing. Coal-oven pizza is notorious for its underdone/overdone dichotomy, with burnt sections punctuated by doughy sections, neither satisfactory. Juliana's gets it right, though. There's just enough char to separate it from its electric-baked cousins, just enough crunch to the exterior and chew to the interior. There's also wine, beer, an over-the-top fudgy brownie-cookie Juliana's calls a "brookie", and plenty of Sinatra paraphernalia to round out the experience. There's a reason tourists flock to eat anything with the Grimaldi's name on it, and that's because this is just what you want from New York pizza.
- Katie Ett, donuts4dinner.com