Using this book by William Ehling, I went on a hike last weekend near Hornell, mostly along the Finger Lakes Trail. If you're a hiker, and you'd like to find some places around here for day hikes, Bill Ehling (who died earlier this year at age 93) should be your first go-to guy, and you should pick up his books. I also can't say enough about CNY Hiking and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.
At any rate, while I was down that way, I stopped by Little Italy in Hornell. I liked the name, the building looked good, and so did the pizza.
Forttunately, the pizza proved to be as good as it looked. I got one cheese and one pepperoni slice. Underneath, there were some faint screen marks - which in my experience too often means a soft, oily crust - but the underside was dry to the touch, with some surface crackling. As you can see in one of the photos, when the cheese slice was folded, it cracked but didn't break.That's what I mean by "crackling."
If I may digress for a moment, let me explain that in general, I like that sort of crackling, but I don't view it as essential. I've tremendously enjoyed Neapolitan-style pizzas that are wet in the middle and need to be eaten with a knife and fork. I generally don't like crusts that are crunchy but soaked through with oil and essentially pan fried.
But I do appreciate a crust that strikes a balance between a chewy interior and a crackly bottom. It's very similar to a good loaf of bread with a crisp crust. A pizza crust needs to be just a little thick to make that work, and this crust did just that.
The crust also had a pleasant, breadlike aroma. Thickness-wise, it was thin to medium, aside from the outer edge, which was thick and chewy.
The slices were topped with a tomatoey sauce, which had a thick consistency, and some subtle herbal notes. The layer of processed mozzarella cheese was thin and pretty uniform, and rather well browned on the cheese slice - a tad too well browned for me. The pepperoni was thin-sliced and OK but not exceptional.
Little Italy offers pizza in five sizes, with 13 toppings to choose from. They also do four specialty pizzas: white garlic, chicken wing, "meat craze," and veggie.
The menu is available here, so I won't go through it completely, but I'm intrigued by the "pizza crust sandwich," which is described as "An individual dough baked with butter garlic sauce, loaded with chipotle mayonnaise, your choice of steak (with sweet & tangy), chicken (with Little Italy sauce), or cheeseburger with bacon. Topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion." Next time I'm down that way I think I'll check that out.
I liked Little Italy, and I liked their pizza. It strikes me as a fine hometown pizzeria. These slices were very good, if basic pizza, a cut above average, so I'll give them a B.
Little Italy Pizzeria, 7498 Seneca Rd., Hornell
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.