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Brew Review

Grand Times Await at Grimaldi’s

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By Joni Williams


There’s nothing better than the bready scent of pizza, hot out of the oven, wafting through the frosty night air. Except maybe a fully loaded bar. You’ll find both at Grimaldi’s in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin.


Rest assured, the fresh baked fragrance is more than a tease. The pizza here has an artisan  look and homemade taste, cooked in a real brick oven that’s meticulously maintained to produce pies that don’t disappoint. And Grimaldi’s gets big bonus points for having an open view kitchen that lets you watch the pizzas being made in a superclean workspace.


It would be worth the trip just for the eats. Besides those top-of-the-line pies, the menu includes plenty of yummy apps—bruschetta, anyone?—salads, pasta and decadent desserts. But their fully stocked bar has proven to be just as worthy.


Here you’ll find an extensive selection of wine that includes imports from Italy as well as domestics from Sonoma and Napa. Admittedly, we’re not big on wine unless it hails from those very places. Most varieties are offered by the bottle and/or carafe, as well as by the glass, making it a grape place to do some sampling. (And come up with a lot of bad grape puns, too.)


Be forewarned—their signature drinks are also pretty tempting. One of our faves is their Long Island Limoncella vodka martini, made with fresh squeezed lemons. It not only tastes like summer but packs enough of a one-two alcoholic punch to warm up even a true Floridian on a chilly night. Take that, Old Man Winter.


If the bar selections don’t make you feel like an over-21 kid in a candy store, wait until you view the brews. They have plenty on tap—we counted 12—ranging from the local 30A Beach Blonde to the Italian Peroni. Plus, there are about 10 more available by the bottle, including fruity options like Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Angry Orchard’s Hard Cider and New Belgium’s Citradelic. And of course, you’ll find the everyday classics from Mich, Bud and Coors if you’re looking for something familiar and predictable.


If not, we say go with Lagunitas Sumpin’ Sumpin,’ a full-flavored wheat, mildly hoppy beer with a fruity edge. If you’d rather play it deliciously safe, go for Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, one of our all-time favorite beers and the perfect complement to just about anything edible. If IPAs are your thing, we’d again suggest Lagunitas. And not just because they’re a dependably fine brewer, but because their IPA is so well-balanced and not overly bitter or hoppy.


Here’s the best part. Despite offering a veritable bar bonanza of selections including well-prepared libations and worthy wines and beers, prices aren’t extravagant. Beers are four to six bucks, and most glasses of vino run between seven and 10, with a few costing a couple bucks more.


If you’re really counting your pennies, the time to hit this place is between 3:30 and 5 p.m. That’s when the pizza ovens are down for “stoking,” a renewal process done twice a day to ensure the coals fire perfectly. Instead of closing down the entire shop, Grimaldi’s takes advantage of this time by throwing a very happy hour—actually, and hour and a half—by slashing two bucks off the price of beer, wine and “signature drinks.” Though pizzas aren’t available, antipasto and the much beloved bruschetta are. And they’re also discounted two bucks.


Grimaldi’s is open for both lunch and dinner and stays true to its 10 or 11 p.m. closing time, even on quiet winter nights. Besides offering top-notch fare that isn’t overpriced, you’ll find a quaint and clean atmosphere here as well as staff that’s pleasant, helpful and obviously well trained.


And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, trust us, one whiff of the air inside will be.

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