Friday, July 22, 2016
La Paloma in Alden, which is about an hour west of Rochester. No, I didn't drive all that way just to go to La Paloma. I happened to be in the area, and I was hungry, so when I saw that magic word, "Pizzeria," well, ...
I got two pepperoni slices. They were average size, and what I'd call medium to thick. The undersides had a pancake-like appearance, but were reasonably crisp and not oily to the touch. The crust was OK, with a nice chew and a hint of fresh bread in the aroma. The cornicione was crunchy, with a toasty flavor.
The slices were topped with a fairly thick layer of mozzarella, which was nicely melted, if a bit congealed. It was applied in good proportion to the thick crust. The sauce, however, seemed to get a little lost between the crust and the cheese. To the extent that I could taste it, it seemed like a pretty basic, mildly flavored tomato sauce, a little sweet but not overly so. The pepperoni was fine, if unremarkable. A faint hint of oregano on my palate rounded things out.
La Paloma's menu includes pizza, pasta, subs, wings, and salads. No specialty pizzas, but they do offer 18 pizza toppings, and white or red sauce.
"Square" pizza seems to be something of a specialty at La Paloma. Their website says that they are "the only place in town to get 4 different size square pizza's [sic] if you like a thick crust square is the way to go."
I just stopped in for a couple of slices, so I chose from what was available, none of which was square. Even these were on the thick side, so presumably the square pizzas are quite thick indeed. But they do emphasize that they can make whatever kind of pizza you'd like. I quote again from their website:
Pizza made the old fashioned way, hand tossed using a recipe that has been handed down through the family for years. Do you like a thin New York City style crust or is a deep dish, thick crust pizza your preference? Is it cheese and pepperoni, or fresh veggies, white or traditional? Square or round, small, or large spicy cup and char pepperoni or traditional? No matter what your taste LaPaloma's will make it your way.
If I lived closer to Alden, I'd go back before long and try some of those other styles. But I don't, so I'll have to satisfy myself with these, which weren't bad at all. I'd characterize this as straightforward, basic WNY pizza, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Alden, NY 14004
Tue.- Fri: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday: 3:00 - 9:00
Sunday 1:00 - 8:00
Lunch Hour Specials Tue. - Fri.,11 am - 1:30 pm
Friday, July 15, 2016
Even at pizzerias with long lists of specialty pies, you don't often see potato pizza among them. When you do, it's apt to be of the "stuffed potato" variety, loaded with cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream and whatnot. To me that's overkill, and I generally avoid that kind of pizza. I don't even like my potatoes that way.
But there is an Italian tradition of adding potatoes to pizza. And Fiamma, one of my favorite pizzerias, offers its version, which I tried recently.
During a recent lunch visit with two friends, I ordered Fiamma's Montanara pizza. I'd seen it on the menu and been wanting to try it for some time. The Montanara is topped with smoked mozzarella, sliced potato, crumbled sausage and porcini mushrooms.
(As an aside, I should mention that I've seen the term "montanara" applied to pizza with a fried crust, typically topped with a tomato-based sauce. This was neither.)
Now I would not ordinarily order a pizza with mushrooms. There aren't many pizza toppings I shy away from, but mushrooms are one of them. I just don't like mushrooms, mostly because of their texture.
But another principle I tend to follow is that at certain restaurants, I trust the chef. I don't think chefs should refuse reasonable customer requests to alter a dish slightly, but after all the fine pizza I've had at Fiamma, I figure, either get it as described, or don't get it at all. That's particularly true if I'm going to review it on the blog. So I ordered the Montanara, mushrooms and all.
As usual, I'll start with the crust. There's not much I can say beyond what I've said before about Fiamma's consistently good crust. Puffy cornicione, black blisters along the edge and underneath, supple and flavorful. I think I'd be quite happy to make a meal of an unadorned Fiamma's crust. To me, it's what a wood-fired pizza crust should be.
Which makes for a convenient segue to the toppings. I know that some customers have complained from time to time that they find Fiamma's pizza soggy, or soupy, or words to that effect. I've written about that before, and I'm not going to get back into it here, except to say that Neapolitan-style pizza is simply different from basic American pizza. I mention it because the toppings on Fiamma's Montanara are not as wet as some of their other pizzas, so the crust is comparatively drier and firmer.
It's also a more subtly flavored pie than some of the others on the menu. No hot peppers, or sharp cheese, or salty anchovies. Instead, you get a harmonious blend of savory sausage and mushrooms and almost buttery-tasting, thinly sliced al dente potatoes. They're complemented by bits of rosemary and other herbs, and a touch of olive oil, against a backdrop of smoked mozzarella, which I like very much. All told, this pizza is far from bland or uninteresting, but it does use a relatively restrained combination of ingredients that invites slow eating (something I'm not always good at) and which rewards the diner's attention.
Oh, and the mushrooms? I have to admit, they worked well here. Not that I'm going to start ordering mushrooms on my pizza on a regular basis, but their flavor blended nicely with that of the other toppings, and these didn't have the rubbery texture that I find so objectionable.
As much as I remain a fan of Fiamma's red pizzas, one of the things I enjoy about going there is working my way through the pizza menu. Each variety has something different to offer, and this was another good example. Its very dissimilarity from the other pies on the menu is why the Montanara offers its own unique rewards, which are well worth seeking.
Fiamma, 1308 Buffalo Road
Mon-Sat - 11:45am-2:00pm
Mon - Thurs 4:30pm-9pm
Fri - Sat 4:30pm-10pm
Friday, July 8, 2016
I stopped last week for lunch at Joe's Brooklyn Pizza in Henrietta, one of my local favorites. One slice is often enough for me at lunchtime, but when I'm faced with Joe's array, it's tough to go with just one slice.
So I got two: a thin "Taste of the Old Neighborhood" slice, and a thick Grandma's slice. They made for an interesting pair. Both use the same basic toppings, with the addition of mozzarella on the thick Sicilian slice. Here's the rundown:
Old Neighborhood: tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, shallots, fresh basil, and grated Pecorino Romano. Again, the Grandma's is the same, but adds aged, a/k/a processed, mozzarella.
Tough to pick a winner here. As for the TOTON slice, I find myself liking this kind of pizza, which harks back to a style that was prevalent in the early 20th century, before Americans starting blanketing all their pizza with mozzarella. Obviously if you like a lot of cheese on your pizza, or if you don't much care for red sauce, this is not for you, but to me, it's hard to beat the combination of tomato sauce, basil and garlic. Eating this is like enjoying a slice of bread that's been dipped into a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce, simmering on the stove. Delicious.
I'm sure I'd enjoy both these styles, on either a thick or thin crust, but I think going with thin for the Old Neighborhood slice and thick for the Grandma's was a good move. Sicilian pizza seems to call for a little something extra to balance out the thick crust, and the mozzarella/sauce combination does that well.
I guess I was enjoying these so much I forgot to get a photo of the undersides, but if you've been to Joe's or read any of my prior posts about Joe's, it should come as no surprise that both crusts were terrific. The thin slice was crackly, crisp yet chewy, the Sicilian breadlike, with just enough crunch underneath. (I did think to take a side view of the Grandma's slice, as you can see.)
Now about that giveaway. Proprietor Joe Staffieri has graciously offered to provide not one, but two $25 gift cards for me to give away to two lucky readers. To enter, send me an email at ROCPizzaGuy@gmail.com, with "Joe's" in the title line. The deadline to enter is next Friday, July 15, at noon. I will select two winners at random. One entry per person, please.
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza
1100 Jefferson Rd., Henrietta NY 14623
6720 Pittsford Palmyra Rd., Fairport NY 14450
Mon - Wed 11 AM - 9 PM
Thurs - Sat 11 AM - 10 PM
Sunday noon - 8 PM