Carol Grimaldi, matriarch behind New York City pizza mainstay Grimaldi’s Pizza, died Thursday, April 10th, at the age of 75 after battling cancer. Grimaldi and her husband Patsy first opened Patsy’s Pizzeria in in 1990. Although the couple wanted to open their restaurant in Manhattan, they chose Brooklyn so they could legally make pizza in a coal oven. At the time, it was reportedly the city’s first coal-fired oven in 50 years.
The couple changed the name to Patsy Grimaldi’s in 1996, and retired in 1998 in order to travel. The restaurant, along with the naming and branding rights, was sold to Frank Ciolli. As Ciolli took over and expanded Grimaldi’s into an international brand, the quality once attributed to the local pizzeria was lost.
In 2012, after Ciolli moved his pizzeria to a new location and left behind the coal oven, the Grimaldis came out of retirement and returned to their original shop at 19 Old Fulton Street. The new restaurant, Juliana’s, was named after Patsy’s mother.
“Carol was a fixture near and dear to the many neighbors, frequent customers, and vendors of Grimaldi’s and was a driving force behind the creation of Juliana’s,” said a release from the restaurant.
Karen Lo is an assicate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.