Thursday, April 9, 2009
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, Jefferson Rd., Henrietta
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza opened a few months ago in the Tops Plaza on Jefferson Road in Henrietta, just off 390. It's basically a renamed, transplanted version of the Pizza Stop that had been in Midtown Plaza, until Midtown was cleared out to make room for ... well, we're still not sure what they had to make room for, but anyway that's what happened.
Don't quote me on this, but my understanding is that Joe's is run by the brother of the guy who owns the Pizza Stop on State St. downtown, and that they grew up in Brooklyn and then Long Island, where their father ran a pizza shop. So they have some cred as purveyors of NY-style pizza.
The pizza at Joe's is close, but not identical, to that at the Pizza Stop. The crust is about equally thin, foldable but not floppy, but struck me as a bit crunchier than Pizza Stop's. The underside showed plenty of charring - a bit darker, in fact than you can tell from the photo - but seemed to have a more uneven surface than the pizza at Pizza Stop, so the charring, though widespread, was more spotty, giving the underside sort of a mottled effect.
Despite the well-cooked underside, the toppings were not burnt or dried out, meaning that the ovens are kept at a good, high temperature. The sauce, which is homemade, had a noticeable presence, with a more herbal flavor than Pizza Stop's. My palate is not expert enough to identify the particular herb(s), but think of an "Italian seasoning" blend and you'll get the basic idea.
The cheese seemed like basic mozzarella, and was baked just enough to develop some nice brown blisters while retaining a bit of elasticity. The pepperoni slices also had a nice crunchy edge to them.
Joe's has a pretty wide variety of toppings available, including clams, garlic, shallots and prosciutto. In addition to whole pies, there are a number of slices to choose from, including thin "Brooklyn" style and thick "Sicilian" style (is that just a fancy name for sheet pizza?). And there are several "specialty" pizzas on the menu, such as "Aunt Rose's Spinach Pizza" and "Grandpa's Pizza," which is topped with tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, peppers, garlic, shallots, olive oil, romano, mozzarella and basil. Wow.
Unless you count calzones, pizza is all they do at Joe's. (June 2010 update: Joe's now serves wings, either plain or Buffalo.) There are a few tables, not many, and according to their website, delivery service will be offered "soon."
If you go, by the way, Joe's is not in the main building where Tops is. It's in a separate building closer to Jefferson Road between Moe's Southwest Grill and something called Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Oh, one last thing - the RocWiki site contains more than one negative comment about the staff at Joe's being rude. I can only speak for myself, but I didn't see or have any problems along those lines. Maybe things are different at lunchtime when it gets busy, I don't know, but I hope those were isolated incidents because the pizza here is too good to see this place go under due to customer service issues.
Having another option around town for authentic NY-style pizza can only be a good thing, especially in the land of malls and chain restaurants. Every pizza shop should be judged on its own merits, but given the history here it's hard not to mentally compare Joe's with the Pizza Stop. A side-by-side taste test would be fun, but at this point I have to give a slight, shall we say crust-thin edge to Pizza Stop, if only because it's still, to me, the gold standard for New York style pizza in Rochester. So I'll give Joe's an A-.
Update, 8/3/09: went back recently for a Sicilian slice with pepperoni and a thin slice with sweet peppers and sausage. Both were very good. The thin slice seemed even more charred than last time, but still not burned, with just surface charring. The thick Sicilian slice was not charred, which makes sense - put a thick pizza dough directly on a surface hot enough to char it, and the underside will burn before the inside is cooked through. Despite its thickness it was still fairly light in texture, not too dense, and not greasy underneath like a lot of "sheet" pizzas. I'm still a thin-crust guy but this was a nice change of pace.
I was mostly just enjoying my pizza and wasn't paying especially close attention to it, but I'll have to go back sometime, as Joe's may need to get bumped up to an "A".
Update, 11/12/09: After another visit, I have moved Joe's up to an "A". For the full review, go here.