DUMBO pizza mecca Grimaldi’s seemed to have everything so neatly in place for father-son owner team Frank and Russell Ciolli to vacate their longtime home at 19 Old Fulton Street last Monday—following an ongoing dispute with their landlord—and reopen the following day next-door at 1 Front Street. Now everything has gone tragically haywire: Russell Ciolli, 39, died suddenly on November 23, and the Department of Buildings has issued a stop-work order at the pizzeria’s new location.
On November 23, Russell Ciolli died suddenly. He had been instrumental in opening other Grimaldi’s locations after his father bought the restaurant from founder Patsy Grimaldi in 1998. Following his death, Grimaldi’s relocation has been delayed.
The change of location is further complicated by a stop-work order issued at 1 Front Street by the DOB after a new coal-fired brick oven was installed illegally. Those require a specific, hard-to-get permit, which the Ciollis had not obtained when they installed their new oven. Their current one, you’ll recall, will be turned back over to Patsy Grimaldi, 80, who’s coming out of retirement to open a new pizza place in his old space. The DOB order cites Grimaldi’s for an “illegally installed coal burning oven @ 1st floor done w/o propper approvals & presents a potential danger to patrons.”
Suddenly those accusations of a far-reaching oven theft scheme don’t seem so outlandish. While we wait to hear of our favorite pizza place’s fate (they’re still serving at 19 Old Fulton Street, though their lease supposedly expired on November 30), our condolences to the Ciolli family.