Behind the Mall of Louisiana on Bluebonnet Boulevard is fertile ground for casual dining. In addition to the food court, the open-air Boulevard shopping center boasts a range of sit-down establishments, including a spanking new Red Robin, Bar Louie and BJ’s Brewhouse, which I mention because pizookie is fun to say.
So the fact that another chain, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, recently opened escaped my notice.
I should’ve paid closer attention.
Formerly a Japanese restaurant, Grimaldi’s has transitioned nicely to Italian with red-checkered tablecloths, wine bottle chandeliers and a patchwork tin ceiling.
Speaking of wine, the menu is two-sided. One side is wine. The whole side. All of it. But it being lunch and having an afternoon of work in front of me, I didn’t imbibe. The food side of the menu had plenty to hold my attention.
First off, a word about portion sizes. Be not fooled by the words “small” and “personal.” What those terms really mean is that it will feed at least two people, making practically the entire menu family-style service. A two-person lunch of all small and personal sizes still left us with a tidy stack of take-home boxes, and a large pizza ordered for a crowd at supper was so large as to pose logistical issues for the car ride home.
For lunch, we started off with a caprese salad ($8), because it’s hard to go wrong with slabs of tomato, fresh mozzarella and the biggest basil leaves either of us had ever seen. Topped with a drizzle of balsamic, it was a punch of summer on a dreary winter’s day.
About this pizza. Grimaldi’s serves three kinds of pizza in three sizes, personal (12-inch), small (16-inch) and large (18-inch). There’s the traditional kind with marinara, a white pizza sans tomato sauce and a pesto pizza. It’s all thin crust, but not cracker-thin. There’s a crispy outside and a chewy interior. As Goldilocks says, it’s just right.
From there, you build your own from a exhaustive list of toppings, each with its own price. We started off with a 12-inch personal pesto pizza ($10) and added artichoke hearts ($4), sun dried tomatoes ($4), spicy chicken sausage ($4) and bacon ($4). The warm, toasty crust played well with the bright flavor of the pesto, the creamy artichoke hearts, the sweet and chewy tomatoes, the heat of the chicken sausage and the salty bacon. The large white pizza with garlic ($18) was topped with pepperoni ($2) and Italian sausage ($2). Unlike other white pizzas, this one used an olive oil and garlic combo instead of the creamy white or alfredo sauce. We reheated this pie, and found it suffered for a lack of sauce. The pesto definitely wins this round.
We wrapped our lunch with a fresh-brewed latte ($3.50) and espresso ($2.50) accompanied by the dessert trio ($10). We selected a seasonal amaretto cheesecake, a cannoli and tiramisu. The coffee was good. The tiramisu likewise. But the cheesecake and the cannoli — those were fantastic. A subtle almond taste permeated the slice of cheesecake. It was fluffy and rich and perfect, and completely avoided the pitfall of a lot of almond desserts, the alcoholic tinge of almond extract. The cannoli (after we got the requisite “leave the gun” jokes out of the way) was also delicious, with a crisp, flaky crust and a rich, decadent filling sprinkled with tiny chocolate chips.
I’m not sure about making the Brooklyn Bridge famous, but it’s certainly brought the Mall of Louisiana back onto my culinary radar.
Follow Beth Colvin on Twitter @bethcolvinreads.