Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Guida's Pizzeria, Empire Blvd.
Guida's Pizzeria, which bills itself as "Home of the Best Brick Oven Pizza," has been in business since 1994. While I'm not sure if it's the original, the Empire Boulevard location, which is just west of 590, seems to be the flagship operation, and that's the one I tried.
At lunchtime, there were about six or seven varieties available. The names were written on a board but unfortunately the slices themselves were behind the counter where I couldn't see them very well.
Despite, or should I say because of, the variety to choose from, I got a plain cheese slice. I always figure the best measure of a pizzeria is its cheese slice anyway. That way I'm not overly influenced by the toppings.
This was a medium-thick slice, with a nicely charred bottom. It had a pleasant crunch on the exterior, but was bready on the inside.
As an aside, I call it a "slice," but it was actually two narrow slices. From the looks of it I'd say they came from a pie that had been cut into 12 slices.
This was also a saucy slice. The sauce was applied pretty generously and had a tomatoey, noticeably herbal flavor.
And it was a cheesy slice. The cheese was thick and a bit stringy, and I'd say it was the dominant component here. It seemed to be all mozzarella.
The sauce and cheese were more noticeable near the tip of the slice. The slice got gradually thicker toward the outer edge, and I think that the sauce and cheese had pooled a bit toward the middle of the pie, resulting in a drier edge. I didn't mind that, though, as it better allowed me to pick up the toasted-bread flavor of the crust when I got near the edge.
Guida's has a big menu. Pizzas (made from "hand pounded dough," a phrase I've never seen before, and which I'm not sure I understand) can be ordered regular, thick, "N.Y.C. Thin," or "Pan Risen Sicilian," which takes at least an hour and only comes in half or full sheets. There's a long list of toppings, none too bizarre, but besides mozzarella you can get Romano, feta, crumbly blue and ricotta cheeses.
The list of subs is equally lengthy, and includes "The Schwartzkoff" (not sure if that's an allusion to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who looks like he's downed more than a few subs in his lifetime), which is billed on the menu as "the best sub ever created" and which comes with ham, chicken, swiss, mozzarella, lettuce, onion, mayo, and sweet & sour sauce. On my visit, there were also "Schwartzkoff" pizza slices available, but assuming they had a similar array of toppings, that doesn't sound like my kind of pizza.
Anyway - to wrap up the menu - there are wings, tacos, appetizers. fish, Sunday dinners, desserts ... well, check the menu on their website. There's a lot of stuff on there.
Guida's delivers, for an extra charge, and the Empire Blvd. location had some seating, as I think they all do.
What struck me about this pizza was that each of the components - the crispy, toasted crust, the herbal sauce, the substantial layer of melted cheese - seemed to be vying with the others for my attention. With some pizzas (a classic NY-style cheese slice comes to mind), the components blend together into a seamless whole. Here, though, on just about every bite (until I got close to the edge, when the crust took over) I could taste, and get the texture of, each component individually. That's neither a criticism nor an endorsement, just a description. You may like that, you may not. I did, and I'll give this slice a B+.
NY style pizza remains my favorite, and I'll probably try Guida's take on that style sometime. But this slice did leave me wondering - if a Guida's cheese slice has this much going on, what must a "Schwartzkoff" be like?
Guida's Pizzeria, 404 Empire Blvd. 288-0590
Mon-Thu. 11am-10pm, Fri. & Sat. 11am-11pm, Sun. Noon-10pm
The other locations are in Penfield, Honeoye Falls, Webster, and on Elmgrove Rd. in Gates.