A coal-fired pizza oven operates at extremely high temperatures. It cooks the pizza very quickly and gives it a slightly smoky flavor. If you make a pizza crust of an average thickness, the hot floor of the brick oven will char the bottom of the crust by the time the pizza is completely cooked. Coal oven pizza aficionados love the char--they savor the crunchy blackened crust the same way Texas barbecue lovers treasure the crispy burnt ends of a brisket.
Unfortunately, Texans weren't raised on coal oven pizza and they see do not see the allure of a "burnt" pizza. And so the whole coal-fired brick oven pizza phenomenon is kind of a joke in Houston.
I ordered this small Italian sausage pizza at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn on February 11. As usual, the crust was well charred. No the pizza isn't burnt, it's supposed to look this way.
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I ordered this small Italian sausage pizza at the Grimaldi's in Sugar Land exactly a week later on February 18. The pizza is baked in a coal-fired brick oven identical to the one at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. But there is no char on the crust. This is apparently achieved by making an extremely thin crust that is completely cooked before any blackening occurs.
Why no char? Grimaldi's has six locations in Arizona and two in Dallas. And they have learned through experience that folks out West don't see the attraction of a charred pizza crust. They complain the pizza is burnt and send it back.
So if you were wondering if a Grimaldi's pizza in Houston is just like a Grimaldi's pizza in Brooklyn, the answer is-- No.