pizza and wine pairing at Grimaldi's Pizzeria at the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, FL. The pizza is still as phenominal as last year but the wine list has changed significantly. General Manager Scott Flinn says now I have 50 to choose from; most are available by the glass and half carafe as well as by the bottle.
We started the evening with a crisp, grapefruit filled Girard Sauvignon Blanc ($35) and a Mediterranean Salad. The salty olives and feta, along with the vinegar in the dressing, tamed the acidity in the wine. It was one of my favorite pairings of the night. Perfect for the hot Summer months ahead.
Next up, the star; the pizzas. Flinn began with one of his favorites; roasted red pepper, sausage and ricotta. The ricotta was fresh and creamy, the sausage good and spicy and the roasted red peppers added just the right, sweet touch. As I was looking at the wine list I noticed a bottle that used to be one of my favorites; Caymus Conundrum ($35). After asking Flinn how it was drinking, he said, "You're about to find out." Over the years, the blend has seem to evolve into something sweeter than I prefer and sweeter than what I originally remembered. Maybe I'm the one who has changed, not the wine. Regardless, it was creamy; full of perfume and thick apricot flavors. It was fantastic with the white pizza.
I pointed out another wine on the list; a fun, syrah based blend called Troublemaker ($39). Flinn shook his head and said, "Well you've guessed the next two. Lets see if you can figure out what I'm pouring for dessert." Back to that challenge in a minute. The Troublemaker was peppery but juicy and it was served with pizza #2; meatball, ham, Kalamata olives and a tangy red sauce. We experimented a bit with the olives; they brought out flavors of cocoa in the wine.
Grimaldi's has seasonal cheesecakes and this is the last week for the Baileys in an Oreo crust.. My task was to guess the wine Flinn would pair with this. The pressure was on. I scanned the blends first, then the cabs, the merlots, no, no no. I kept going back to the "Baby Amarone" Palazzo Della Torre ($39). BINGO!!! I earned my pizza and wine stripes!
The made-from-scratch cheesecake was creamy and rich, one of my dining dates called it "the money dish". The wine was not as rich and full of raisins as a "grown up" amarone. It was easy to drink. The dessert brought out the characteristics of cherry and almonds in the wine. Another great combination! Good job Scott!
The new round of seasonal cheesecakes includes Blueberry Cobbler and Strawberry, $5 a slice.
Another summer special beginning in June, "Tasting Tuesday". All bottles and glasses of wines at Grimaldi's (other than house and Sangria) are half-price. The famous pizzeria is continuing expansion projects nationwide. If there is not one near you, look for one while traveling this Summer and treat yourself to some amazing, authentic New York pizza, impressive wine and for sure, a great time.