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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shooters, Revisited

It was back in March 2011 that I last reviewed Shooters, a bar and restaurant in Fairport, or Perinton, depending on how you look at the map, or go by postal designations. Either way, it's at the corner of Fairport Road (31F) and Baird Road. But it was overdue for a revisit.
With that in mind, I recently stopped at Shooters with my beautiful wife for lunch. She opted for a salad (ah, women, what can I say) while I got a Margherita pizza.
It was thin, as expected,  with an underside that was generally golden brown, with a light dusting of flour. There were a few charred spots along the edge, but not underneath.
It was tasty, with a thick layer of bright-tasting tomato sauce and several well-melted dollops of fresh mozzarella, and some fresh basil that had been added at the end. The pie had also been dusted with a grated hard cheese, probably Parmesan.
Although the underside wasn't shatteringly crisp, it was firm. As you can see in the photo, I was able to fold and hold a slice up, horizontally, even as the well-melted cheese stretched out.
There was a genuine wood fire in the oven; it wasn't just a gas fire, as I've seen in some places. From a brief conversation with the pizzaiolo, though, I learned that the fire typically gets cranked up, and the oven temperature is typically higher, in the evening, resulting in a shorter baking time.
That's understandable; the lunch crowd was relatively sparse, and I can see not wanting to go through a lot of fuel during low-volume hours. I suspect, then, that a pizza ordered during the dinner hour would likely come out a little more charred and/or crisp underneath.
But this pie was not underdone, even if it was a little different from what I would've gotten had I ordered the same pie that evening. It was not blistered or charred underneath, but it was firm. If your ideal pizza is "leopard spotted" underneath, try coming here for dinner rather than lunch.
Shooters offers twelve pizzas, and while I went with my default Margherita, I'd like to try their clams Casino pizza and their andouille sausage pizza. They also have an extensive burger menu, as well as sandwiches, panini, salads, wings, and other sides and appetizers. There's a full bar, and a lot of TVs around to keep sports fans happy.
I liked this pizza, and I liked the place itself. The service was attentive, and the pizzaiolo was obviously dedicated to his craft. This particular pie wasn't among the very best I've had, in my opinion, but it was good overall, and good enough to make me want to go back. So a B seems about right.

Shooters, 1226 Fairport Road
Fairport, NY 14454

Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. noon - midnight
Pizza available till 11 p.m.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Uncle Joe's, Geneva

I recently went to Geneva, NY, to attend an event at the Smith Opera House. In addition to pizza, I love crosswords and word puzzles in general, and NY Times crossword editor (and NPR puzzlemaster) Will Shortz was the featured speaker at this event. I got to meet Will, and it was a very enjoyable evening, as he told us a bit about his background and then led the audience through several word games.
While it's not that far away, I don't get out to Geneva all that often, so naturally I had to take advantage of this trip to hit a couple of local pizzerias.
First up, and the sole subject of this blog post, was Uncle Joe's. I was predisposed to like this place from the start, given its location in an old building in a residential neighborhood. Read about its history here.
On my 5 p.m. visit, there were just two kinds of slices available, cheese or pepperoni. Both were thick and square cut, in trays in a display case at the front counter.
I ordered a cheese slice, which was given a brief rewarming in the oven. This was a big, hefty slice, and despite the minimal toppings, it would've been a meal in itself, except that I saved some for later, since I wanted to hit one more pizzeria.
The crust was thick, browned underneath, with one large burst bubble, and was reasonably dry to the touch - in other words, not overly oily. The bottom was firm, and the interior was OK. A little chewy, not especially breadlike, and a bit bland. The outer edge, or cornicione, was a little dry.
Topside, a scattered layer of melted mozzarella sat atop a coating of tomato sauce, which had a bright tomatoey flavor. Flavorwise, this was a pretty simple, if well made slice.
I did take note of the pepperoni slices, which were topped with cup and char pepperoni. Oddly, the pepperoni only seemed to cover half the slices; maybe it hadn't been carefully applied, or the pizza wasn't carefully sliced after coming out of the oven. But as both the cheese and pepperoni slices were the same price - $2.50 - I guess there wouldn't be much cause for complaint.
If you want an individual, made-to-order pizza, Uncle Joe's offers 10- and 14-inch pies, with 19 toppings. There aren't many specialty pizzas as such, but they do offer a white pizza with fresh garlic, a "poor man's" pie with red sauce, pepperoni and Romano (which ironically costs more than a regular cheese pie), and gluten-free pizza. They also do subs and sandwiches, fried haddock, pasta, soups and salads. Beer and wine are available as well, which you can enjoy in the dining room, just off the front counter area.
Not a bad slice of pizza, this, but not exceptional either. At the very least, it was better than the generic stuff offered by many places today, and all in all I liked it. I won't give it a label as such, but for the Rochester area, I'd put this in the roughly average category.

Uncle Joe's, 99 N. Genesee St., Geneva
(315) 781-1199

Mon. 11 am - 10 pm, Tues. closed, Wed. & Thu. 11 am - 11 pm, Fri. 11 am - midnight, Sat. 4:30 - midnight, Sun. 4:30 - 10 pm


Friday, September 25, 2015

Buffalo: Jacobi's and Riva's

I don't get to Buffalo too often, so I make no claim to be able to cover the Buffalo pizza scene. But when I do get pizza in Buffalo, I figure it's close enough to Rochester to warrant a blog post. If you live in the Rochester area, you probably make it out to Buffalo from time to time, and if you are reading this blog, you'll want to know where to find good pizza when you get there.
In July, I hit two places in the Buffalo area. I was on my way to the Ralph for a Stones concert, so I didn't have a lot of time to pick and choose. My first choice, Two Guys, had no slices available. So I just drove down the road, and ran across Jacobi's on Walden Avenue.
I think they opened here relatively recently. Apparently this address used to be the site of a now-closed, "R J's" pizzeria. I would strongly suggest to Jacobi's that they work on their web page, since the "About Us" page now consists of a fill-in-the-blank form that hasn't been completed yet. Their home page says they've been making pizza since 1989, but clearly not in this location, so I'm not sure what the history is.
I got a big pepperoni slice. The crust was medium to thin, and the underside showed that it had been baked in a pan. There was a clear delineation between the cornicione and the well browned, bubbly underside. It was flavorful and well balanced, with a uniform layer of melted cheese, crisp pepperoni, and a straightforward sauce, with a tomatoey flavor and salty/sweet accents. I like a crisp crust, and this wasn't that, but aside from that I enjoyed it.
Just down and across the road was Riva's Pizza, where I got a giant pepperoni slice, cut down the middle. It was thinner than Jacobi's, with an underside that was a lighter shade of brown, not so much bubbly as striped. Again, it was pliable, not crisp or crackly, and clearly some oil must have been present when it was baked, although it wasn't oily or greasy to the touch or on the palate. But the crust clearly took a supporting role here, on a slice that was dominated by the cheese.
The pie had just come out of the oven, so I didn't get it rewarmed (obviously that would have some effect on the color and crispness of the underside). The cheese was still hot, so it was a bit sloppy, but in a good way - nicely melted and gooey. It had a mild, slightly salty flavor, and it seemed to be straight mozzarella.
The pepperoni slices were a bit sparse, but what there was, was browned and crisped along the edge. The sauce was added in good proportion to the other components, and had a simple tomatoey flavor.

To look beyond these particular slices, let me mention that Jacobi's has an extensive menu, with numerous specialty pizzas, wings, subs, pasta, sandwiches and ribs. Riva's menu is a little less comprehensive, but still covers all the basics - pizza, subs, wings and salads. (Most pizzerias seem to offer salads, so I assume somebody's ordering them, but for the life of me I don't know who.)
So, two interesting takes on Buffalo-style pizza, not quite as thick as what I expect around Buffalo, but both pretty heavy on the cheese, and with good overall flavor. I can't say I was crazy about the crust on either, but all in all, I enjoyed them well enough.

Jacobi's Pizzeria, 3575 Walden Ave., Lancaster, NY
(716) 685-0000
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 9 p.m.

Riva's Pizza, Subs and Wings, 3488 Walden Ave., Depew, NY
(716) 681-2021
Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m.

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