Sunday, July 5, 2009
Union Hill Country Grill, Webster
I frankly wasn't expecting much from the Union Hill Country Grill in Webster. When I see "country" in the name of a restaurant I always envision one of those "homestyle" kind of places where the walls are decorated with prints of barnyard ducks wearing ribbons around their necks and they serve "breakfast" all day. I mean, you might be able to get some decent biscuits with sausage gravy or some chicken-fried steak here, but good pizza? Not likely. But, it's in Monroe County, which more or less defines the geographic scope of this blog, and they also advertise themselves as a pizzeria, so it had to be done.
Was I in for a surprise. This was some of the best pizza I've had since starting this blog.
Even upon arrival, things didn't look that promising. There's a counter near the entrance, and beyond that was the dining room, which looked like about what I expected. I didn't spot any images of beribboned domestic waterfowl on the walls, but there might've been.
Behind the counter, and looking rather incongruous in this setting, were two pizzas on racks, one with pepperoni, the other some sort of white pizza. I asked for a pepperoni slice to go.
My first surprise came on visual inspection. The crust was pretty thin, except for the thickly crimped edge. The underside showed a fair amount of charring, which I hadn't expected. My nostrils picked up, I think, a faint smoky aroma, although it was subtle and hard to detect under the prominent perfume of the pepperoni (more on that later). Taking a bite, I found that the underside had a pleasing exterior crispness and interior breadiness. The bready quality of the dough really came through in the thick, crunchy-yet-chewy edge.
It was a fairly cheesy slice, but the cheese - which had pulled away a bit from the edge toward the center of the pizza - was not laid on so thickly as to overwhelm the other components.
The sauce stayed pretty much in the background on this one, although it wasn't unnoticeable. It had a mild, cooked-tomato flavor.
The cup-and-char pepperoni was very good. I'm not usually a big "toppings" guy, but this pepperoni, which was applied fairly generously, had a nice crisp edge and a spicy aroma. It was greasy enough to convey flavor to the tastebuds but not so much as to need sopping up with a napkin.
As a full-service restaurant, Union Hill has a wide menu that I won't bother trying to recite here. The pizza menu offers "hand tossed brick oven pizza" - the brick oven helps explain that great crust - and calzones. There's a pretty good range of toppings and 15 specialty pizzas.
The only pizzerias I've given an "A" to so far are the Pizza Stop and Brandani's. If you could cross-breed them, you might come up with something pretty close to Union Hill's pizza. It's got a crisp, charred underside like Pizza Stop, but unlike Pizza Stop's authentic New York-style pizza, this is thicker and breadier, like Brandani's, with a thickness somewhere between the two. The obvious conclusion, then, is that Union Hill joins those two's elite ranks as my third "Grade A" pizzeria.
Union Hill Country Grill, 1891 Ridge Road, Webster, at the corner of County Line Rd. 265-4443.
Mon. - Thu. and Sat. 6 am - 9 pm, Fri. 6 am - 10 pm, Sun. 7 am - 8 pm. Beer and wine available.
Pizza Guy note: as of Jan. 2011, Union Hill is closed. It has since reopened as Mama Lor's Cafe, and pizza is available Wed. - Sat.