Thursday, March 12, 2009
All Star Pizza, Penfield
All Star Pizza, on Penfield Road across from Panorama Plaza, claims to "Specialize in New York Style Thin Crust Pizza," so this was high on my list of places to check out. The result was, well, pretty good, though I'm not sure it would make a City native feel as if he'd been transported back to the Big Apple.
I should note, first of all, that All Star does not just make thin crust. The flyer advertises a "Crust-O-Meter" with three options: "NY Style Thin," "Traditional Regular," and "Double Thick." Of course a lot of places will make the crust thicker or thinner on request, but since the flyer describes this as "New!" I'm guessing that thin crust was originally All Star's default or "regular" pizza, and that at some point they decided to explicitly offer three choices, though the emphasis remains on the thin version.
Anyway, I went with the thin crust, since that's my favorite and All Star's specialty. It certainly met the thinness criterion, not a bad looking pie. Checking the underside revealed that it had been baked on a screen (you can tell by the cross-hatching). I guess the theory behind a screen is that the the holes in the screen allow the bottom of the dough to cook by convection and radiant heat rather than by conduction as when the pizza lies directly on the oven floor. In theory that should result in a crisper crust, but it didn't here. Now I should point out that this pizza sat in the box in my car for a good 20-30 minutes before I opened the box, so maybe that had something to do with it, but the crust was not that crisp, and the slices were on the floppy side (ideally you should be able to fold a NY-style slice and have the pointy end stick out straight, without flopping down).
For all that floppiness, oddly, one slice cracked right down the middle when I folded it, but the rest passed the foldability test.
As might be expected, there was also no charring, which is not a huge deal to me, but the ideal NY-style pizza should have some char spots. The edge of the crust was on the crunchy side, in a way that a crust will get when it's got some grease on it or in it. In other words, a fried rather than baked kind of crunch. As you can see, the box also soaked up a fair amount of grease, which may be a good or bad sign depending on how you feel about grease. Frankly I think a little grease (I guess "oil" sounds better) isn't a bad thing, as fat helps convey flavor to your taste buds.
The toppings were pretty standard, with a moderate amount of sauce, and a fairly thick layer of mozzarella cheese that had a tendency to slide off the crust when you removed a slice from the pie or took a bite, unless you were careful to cut or bite cleanly through it. Maybe the fat in the cheese melted and created a barrier between the dough and the cheese, preventing the cheese from adhering to the crust.
I ordered this one half cheese, half pepperoni, although as the photo indicates, what I got was more like 2/3 cheese, 1/3 pepperoni. There's the usual list of available toppings, and some specialty pizzas, including chicken wing, "lasagna pizza," and Philly steak. They also do subs, wings (which are pretty decent), calzones, salads, and various fried sides. Takeout and delivery only. Ask about specials when you order; if I had, I could've saved myself a few bucks.
It may sound as if I really didn't like this pizza, but that's not the case. I enjoyed it. Most of what I said about it was intended only to describe it, not to criticize it. It had a good flavor and was thin enough that I could, and did, eat several slices without getting too full. It's just not, in my opinion, particularly close to what you would typically get at a pizza slice joint in NYC; I'd call it more of an interpretation than an exemplar of NY-style pizza. But measured on its own terms, it was enjoyable enough. I'll give it a B-.