Rookies Express Pizza & Pasta has been open for a few months now on Monroe Ave., in a former location of Mark’s Pizzeria, which moved up the street a little. They are open all day, past bar closing time on weekends. Besides regular and “gourmet" pizzas, they offer baked chicken wings, pasta and subs.
I had a “Hugia Slice” with pepperoni, the name of which is derived from a local auto dealership ad. The huge/mega/jumbo slice thing seems to be hitting Rochester lately. It may be an overgeneralization, but I would say that when you see a place advertising how enormous their slices are, that’s not a good thing if you’re looking for really good pizza. Same as when a restaurant makes a big deal about how generous their portions are: it’s putting quantity over quality.
My “Hugia Slice” did nothing to dispel that view. It was big, for sure, but, almost strange. The crust was very doughy, with a soft, spongy texture and yeasty flavor that reminded me a little of the crepe-like injera bread they serve at Abyssinia, the Ethiopian restaurant on University Ave. The underside was pale and soft too, but the edge was slightly burnt and crunchy, with an oily flavor and mouthfeel.
There was not much sauce on the crust, but above that was a medium-thick layer of cheese, with flecks of brown, cooked spots. The cheese adhered to the slice when I bit into it, although it pulled away in a single mass quite easily when I tugged on it with my fingers. The pepperoni was of the “cup and char” variety, with a nice crunch to it.
The counter service (there is virtually no seating) was friendly and polite, but despite that I have no plans to go back. Rookies’ menu says that they have three dough styles to choose from if you order a full pie - “original pan, thin, or crispy” - and I assume that I got the “original pan” version - but nothing about it made me want to check out the other two. My take on Rookies is that, like a lot of the big-slice places, it caters, or appeals, primarily to the bar crowd looking for a cheap way to fill their guts and soak up beer. This would certainly do the trick, but I’m afraid that’s about all. I give it a D.
Pizza Guy Note: Rookies Express has closed.