Thursday, January 7, 2010
Giuseppe’s is an Italian restaurant/ bakery/ pizzeria in Gates. Though you might not guess it from its location in a relatively modern shopping plaza, it’s got a pedigree going back over 80 years.
When I was doing some research into Rochester’s pizza history, I noticed the claim, “est. 1927” on Giuseppe’s website. I got in touch with the current owner, Joe Chinappi, who informed me that his grandfather, Joseph (Giuseppe) Petrillo began the restaurant, which was originally located on State Street in Rochester.
Eventually the family relocated the restaurant to a spot on Lyell Road. At some point, Chinappi’s parents sold that property to a developer to make room for a drugstore. He then took over the business and moved it across the street to a shopping plaza near the intersection of Rt. 31 and Howard Rd.
And there Giuseppe’s remains, now into its fourth generation of family-run operation, with the owner’s two sons and heirs apparent handling much of the baking and cooking. I’m still not sure exactly where Giuseppe’s fits into the whole oldest-pizzeria discussion, but it’s clearly among the senior class of Rochester pizza places.
Getting back to that shopping plaza: now I’ve never owned a business of any kind, but I must say that Giuseppe’s current location doesn’t strike me as an obvious place to put a restaurant. It’s far removed from the street, and is tucked way back in a far corner of the plaza. But they seem to be doing fine, which should tell you something about the food. Here’s one of my rules of thumb when it comes to restaurants: busy restaurant, out-of-the-way location = good food. (The inverse - good location, bad food - is less universally, but all too often, true. I’ve had some pretty mediocre meals in restaurants that are clearly getting by on the strength of their convenient or scenic location.)
And the food here is good. I’ve yet to dine at Giuseppe’s - an omission I mean to correct - but I was familiar with it from having stopped there on occasion for a loaf of their Italian bread, which I consider some of the best in the area. You can get it hard or soft, but go with the hard. It’s got a wonderfully firm, dark, crisp exterior and a moist, chewy, airy interior.
I recently picked up a medium pepperoni pizza from Giuseppe’s. One of the first things I noticed about it was that it was asymmetrically sliced. That probably wasn’t intentional, but I actually kind of like it that way, since it gives you a choice of larger and smaller pieces, as suits your appetite.
It had a thin-to-medium thick crust, with an underside that was fairly dry, but with a faint hint of oil, neither particularly crisp nor especially soft. The edge was thin and crisp.
This was pretty cheesy pizza, with a thick layer of nicely melted mozzarella. Beneath that lay a coating of very tomatoey sauce, the flavor of which was complemented by the distinctive tang of romano cheese. The pie was generously topped with thin, crisp slices of pepperoni. I’m not sure if it was the pepperoni or the sauce, or both, but overall the pizza also had a somewhat salty flavor.
Giuseppe’s pizza menu offers 15 toppings to pick from, white pizza, and five specialty pizzas, including a clam pizza. They also do mini pizzas, wings and hot and cold subs.
If you’re going to Giuseppe’s, you’ll find the takeout counter just inside the front door. There you’ll also see their assortment of breads, cookies, and canollis.
The dining room is on the left, separated from the takeout counter by a set of French doors. The restaurant serves a full menu of Italian dishes (many of which are also available for takeout), steaks, chicken, soups and salads. Several fish entrees are offered on Fridays, while Monday through Thursday you can take advantage of a lunchtime pizza buffet. Beer and wine are available.
I’m not sure at what point in its long history Giuseppe’s started offering pizza, but this struck me as, indeed, old-fashioned pizza, and I mean that in the best way. Uncomplicated, straightforward, and full flavored, the way I imagine it was decades ago. For my taste, the crust could’ve been a little more crisp underneath, but this crust certainly wasn’t bad, and it made a good base for the generous, yet well balanced toppings, and on the whole I enjoyed this pizza. I’ll give it a B+.
Giuseppe’s, 40 Spencerport Rd. (Rt. 31) 426-3397
Takeout hours: Mon. - Thu. 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. &. Sat. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Dine-in hours: Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Pizza Guy note: for a review of Giuseppe's clam pizza, go here.