Carol Grimaldi, co-founder of Grimaldi’s Pizza in Dumbo, died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. She was 75.
“She was a very forceful person. A great business woman. And a great friend,” said Matthew Grogan, a partner at the legendary pizzaiolo’s new restaurant Juliana’s. “She was well known and well loved by a lot of people.”
Grimaldi and her husband Patsy opened the famous Old Fulton Street coal-oven pizzeria in 1990. They sold the place and the name eight years later, thinking they would retire, but returned to the business when the new owner Frank Ciolli lost his lease in 2012, opening up Juliana’s in their old storefront.
“Retirement wasn’t really part of our vocabulary,” Carol told The Brooklyn Paper at the time. “We are so thrilled to be back.”
Ciolli spun off the Grimaldi’s brand into a chain with outposts in Texas, Nevada, and South Carolina. And he re-opened in Dumbo with a new location around the corner, sparking a simmering pizza feud with the Grimaldis. But longtime fans, including the staff of this paper, confirmed that the original Dumbo pie-makers had not lost their touch during their sabbatical. Carol had a lot to do with the couple’s continued success, Grogan said.
“She was a driving force behind making Juliana’s as successful as it is,” said Grogan. She helped design the new pizza outpost’s interior and helped update the menu, he said. “She was very up to speed on a lot of culinary happenings.”