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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meneze's, Chili Ave.

Menezes' Pizza on Urbanspoon
Menezes Pizza is on Chili Avenue in Rochester’s 19th Ward. They’ve been in business, at one location or another, since 1986, and at their current location since 1996 (there’s an extensive history of the pizzeria on their website).
I ordered a large pie, half pepperoni, half plain. It was a 16" pie, cut into square slices.
The crust was medium-to-thick, and appeared to have been baked on a screen, although the website describes Menezes pizza as stone-baked. I asked one of the owners about that afterwards and was told that the pizzas do start out on a screen and then are moved to the oven floor about halfway through baking, for reasons having to do with the high volume of orders they have to deal with. But if a customer asks for the pizza to be cooked on the oven floor throughout, Menezes will accommodate that request.
Getting back to the crust, it did have some exterior crispness. It was a relatively light shade of brown underneath, but had a darker, pretzel-like hue along the thick, slightly crunchy lip. Overall, the dough had a reasonably bready flavor and texture, which is especially important for a thicker-crust pizza.
Topside, the cheese was well browned, especially on the cheese-only half. It was fairly thick, and was baked to the point of coagulation - in other words, it wasn’t stringy, which was fine by me.
The sauce had a mild, tomatoey flavor. It wasn’t unnoticeable, but stayed very much in the background. The pepperoni was of the wide and thin variety, and had good flavor.
Menezes has a basic menu, with a modest list of pizza toppings and two specialty pizzas (Buffalo chicken and steak). They also offer wings and chicken fingers, hot and cold subs, burgers, fries, and salads. The wings, by the way, are nice and meaty, and although I ordered mild (to suit my six-year-old’s more delicate palate), they packed some heat.
Menezes is a takeout and delivery place, with a wide delivery area covering just about all of Southwest Rochester. The delivery map is on their website, which also features on online ordering service.
If you peruse Menezes’ menu and website, I think you’ll also sense a commitment by the owners both to turning out a good product, and to their neighborhood. That dedication to their craft is evident in the pizza as well, which had good flavor and texture, was well made, and, to me, typified that hard-to-describe, yet unmistakable “Rochester” style of pizza. For my taste, it would’ve benefited from just a bit of charring underneath to give the crust a nice, toasty flavor, and next time I’ll be sure to ask that it be cooked sans screen. But that one quibble aside, I enjoyed this one, and I’ll give it a B+.
Menezes Pizza, 445 Chili Ave. 328-3010
Mon. - Wed. 11 a.m. - noon, Thu. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sun. noon - midnight
Pizza Guy note:  for a profile of Menezes and discussion with the owners, go here.

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