We just had to eat dinner at Grampa’s Pizzeria last night because it’s on Willy Street and it’s new and we’ve been chomping at the bit to see what it looks like inside and we love pizza and we were out shopping for furniture and we hate shopping and it was guy night and I didn’t have the slightest idea what to make for dinner so pizza.
Grampa’s pizza is da bomb, especially when paired with a glass of Argentinian merlot. There, that’s out of the way.
Grampa’s Pizzeria used to be Grampa’s Gun Shop. I’m not sure but I think Grampa used to live in the back and work in the small shop in the front of the building where he had a work bench set up in front of a picture window so you could see what he was working on. In all the years walking by that place, I never once spotted Grampa at work. The bench was usually strewn with tools and usually a light was on over the bench, but that was the only sign I saw that Grampa was at work in there.
When Grampa retired the place was almost immediately sold, the picture window was papered over and hints began to appear in the news that it would be turned into a restaurant. I have to admit I had my doubts. The place looked tiny. What kind of a restaurant could they possibly put in there? But we heard that Gil Altschul, the new owner, was the kitchen manager at Mickey’s Tavern, one of our favorite Willy Street hangouts, and after we heard it would be a pizza place I made sure I strolled past it every couple of days during my lunch hour to see when it would be opening so we could be one of the first customers to try it out.
The place is a lot bigger inside than I thought it was. They gutted the whole thing and the rebuild looks great. The place in the front where Grampa’s work bench used to be is a party room now; we ate dinner there last night at a communal table that appeared to be made out of six-by-six hardwood lumber salvaged from, I don’t know, a barn? A Great Lakes schooner? It was pretty substantial and pretty old, whatever it was. There’s an old-timey tin ceiling and some pretty art on the walls, and the big picture window lets in lots of light. It’s a very friendly space.
The service was great and the staff gets big bonus points for never letting our water glasses go dry. It’s a small thing but we’ve learned that there really is no better way to gauge the level of attention the staff gives you.
We ordered a pork confit for starters and that bottle of merlot I was talking about earlier. They let you cork the bottle and take it home, so we splurged and just bought the whole thing. The confit was about a dozen chunks of artisanal pork in a tiny cast-iron frying pan served with mustard and peppers, and would have been a good, light meal in itself if we both hadn’t brought big appetites. Watch out for those peppers. They seem mild at first but they sneak up on you and take you by the throat if you’re not careful.
And back to the pizza. After a bit of haggling we chose the peperone and it was awesome because it wasn’t buried in cheese, the crust was thin and crispy and the ingredients were delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen olives so green or tasted sauce so tomatoey, if that’s a word. Autocorrect says it isn’t, but to hell with that.
If I were forced to complain about just one thing, and unfortunately for me I rarely have to be forced to complain even a little bit, I’d have to say that the piped-in music was too loud. It was delightful, it complimented the place very nicely, but background music should never be so loud that it forces me to repeat myself while carrying on a conversation with my date. We who are trying to woo women do not appreciate that.
But that’s a nitpick. The experience of dining at Grampa’s left us both so supremely satisfied that we couldn’t stop telling one another how satisfied we were. Mazel tov, Grampa’s! Well done.