Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Nick's Deli, Chili Center
Nick's Italian Deli is a family-run place that’s been in business now for over a quarter century. It’s on Chili Center Coldwater Road (what a mouthful) near the corner of Chili Ave. In addition to being a full-service deli, they also offer homemade pizza.
When I stopped in at lunchtime, the only single-serving pizza choices were pepperoni slices and “mini pizzas.” I think I’m going to do a review of some local mini-pizza places (it seems to be a west side phenomenon), but I wanted a more representative sample of a whole pie, so I got a slice.
Oddly, the slice was thicker toward the tip than toward the outer edge. It was very soft, with no real crispness to speak of in the crust, except at the very lip, which had a fried crunchiness.
The underside had a medium-brown, fried-dough color, though it was not particularly oily. There was some oil or grease on top, though, enough that I sopped it up with a napkin.
The crust was more doughy than bready in flavor and texture. It was not undercooked, but didn’t have the visible air holes that you typically find in a breadlike crust.
What was perhaps most noticeable about this pizza was the sauce, which had a distinctive, slightly sweet flavor. It contained small bits of crushed tomato, and what appeared to be diced onion.
This was a fairly cheesy slice, but most of the cheese was on the “inner” half of the slice, i.e., nearer the tip. That was a little odd too, since I would've expected the cheese to pool toward the thinner outer edge as the pizza baked. I suppose the cheese was probably just distributed more toward the middle of the pizza prior to going in the oven, and that’s where it stayed. Anyway, the cheese was lightly browned, and literally fell off the pizza as I was holding the slice, which had flopped straight down. As I said, it was a very soft slice of pizza.
The wide and thin pepperoni was unremarkable. It shared the surface with a dusting of dried herbs, the flavor of which was definitely noticeable, forming a counterpoint to the sweetness of the sauce.
Nick’s has a pretty basic list of pizza toppings and several specialty pizzas, including the “Four Seasons,” which is described as “New York Style dough with white garlic sauce split into four quarters: ¼ Artichoke, ¼ Prosciutto, ¼ Olive, ¼ Sausage.” Four pizzas in one? Sounds good to me.
The menu at Nick’s runs the gamut from pizza, subs and wings to pasta and seafood dinners, and a variety of Italian pastries and cookies.
Nick’s also deserves mention as the only place in Monroe County (to my knowledge) that offers gluten-free pizza, as well as gluten-free pasta, bread, meatballs (think bread crumbs), cookies and other items. I’ve tried the gluten-free pizza here, and it’s not bad. (The bottom photo here is of the underside of Nick's gluten-free pizza.) The overall flavor is very similar to the slice that I’ve described here, the only real difference being in the texture of the crust. It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like biscuit dough, only not as crumbly.
Nick’s also has a small grocery section, with some imported Italian foods and other items, including the aforementioned gluten-free pasta. There’s an informal dining area, as well as a covered outdoor patio.
Although, by my standards, this pizza had some flaws, I liked it nevertheless. Yes, the crust was way too soft for me, and lacked breadiness, but, as a whole the pizza tasted good. It also had a distinctive flavor, and I prize that too - I wouldn’t mistake this for anybody else’s pizza. So on balance, it comes in, for me, at about a B-.
Nick’s Italian Deli, 1098 Chili Center Coldwater Road. 247-6270
Mon. - Thu. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 3 - 8 p.m.