The long standing musical relationship between Garcia and Grisman began with Grisman's mandolin work on select tracks on the American Beauty album as well as collaborators amongst the likes of Peter Rowan, John Kahn, and Vassar Clements, in the bluegrass band Old and in the Way. Tony Rice's contributions with Grisman's quintet in the early 1980s would earn him a place in these historic recordings.
In February 1993, Grisman was playing with Tony Rice and invited Garcia to his studio. Over the nights of February 4 and February 5, the trio recorded what would be known as The Pizza Tapes.
Garcia's copy was stolen by a pizza delivery boy and, not long after, Grisman heard a song on the radio in New York. Fans started bringing tapes to Grateful Dead shows for autographs, and shortly after, the band confiscated a box of bootleg CDs of the session.
Seven years later, Grisman released the album with the songs in the order recorded, with a few mistakes, false starts, and some talking between musicians.
The Pizza Tapes contains the only known version of Garcia performing "Amazing Grace", which was only played after Pam Rice, Tony Rice's wife, requested it.
Rice gave credit to the late Garcia and wrote, "I wish there were words that would express my gratitude for being a part of it. Perhaps just knowing that Garcia might be smiling somewhere saying, 'Dawg can we hear that take again?' will suffice."
In 2011, Grisman's online label Acoustic Oasis released The Pizza Tapes: Extra Large Edition offering 170 minutes of music, including 16 previously unissued alternate takes in addition to the original master takes in their original sequence. In addition to new music, the expanded edition also features more of the personal repartee that characterized the initial release.