Rochester NY Pizza Blog Rochester restaurants LocalEats featured blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to Brooklyn: Joe's Sicilian and Grandma's

I mostly try to avoid venturing into the cultural wasteland along Jefferson Road in Henrietta, but once in a while it can’t be helped. Fortunately, there is one oasis in that culinary desert, and that’s Joe’s Brooklyn Pizza.
I’ve written about Joe’s before, but I recently found myself in the area, so I took the opportunity to stop by Joe’s and try something different from my usual cheese slice. Instead, I got of Joe’s Sicilian slices, and one “Grandma’s” slice.
The Sicilian slice seemed like the same basic setup as a typical sheet pizza, but unlike most sheet pizza I’ve had, it wasn’t greasy. Compared with Joe’s thin, New York style slices, it was more chewy than crisp, but the crust had a pleasant bready texture and aroma. And while the typical sheet pizza has a hard edge with a “fried” crunch, the lip here likewise was more like a fresh breadstick. The sauce was thick and flecked with herbs, and the cheese was just a bit browned. All in all, it was like an improved version of sheet pizza.
The real standout for me, though, was the Grandma’s slice. This is made with the same thin crust as Joe’s more familiar New York style pizza, but is topped with tomato sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, diced garlic, basil, and romano cheese. It’s difficult, and would be pointless, to describe each of these components separately, because what made this so good was the way that the ingredients blended together. It shared what seemed to be the same thick, herbal sauce with the Sicilian slice, but rather than simply forming a layer between crust and cheese, the sauce took center stage, but blended with the other toppings so remarkably well that, to use a cliché, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
And then of course there’s that crust. Crisp yet chewy, not at all greasy, with a charred, toasty underside and gluteny, bready interior, it formed a perfect, complementary base for the sauce and other toppings. It really showed how great a pizza can be with relatively few, simple toppings. To resort to another cliché, it demontrated that with pizza, sometimes less is truly more.
Getting back to the Sicilian, I liked it well enough, though it didn't exactly make me a convert. I can appreciate the style, and though I'm no connoisseur I imagine this was a well made example, but for me, NY style remains the way to go. It may have something to do with the fact that Sicilian is baked in a pan, which doesn't yield the same crisp crust as a pizza baked directly on the oven floor.
The Grandma's, though, immediately jumped into the short list of my favorite pizzas. All those flavors - tomatoes, herbs, chunky garlic, that sharp romano tang, with the olive oil to bring it all together, and the crisp, bready crust underneath - damn, that was good.
As I mentioned in my previous Joe's review, Joe's is very similar to Pizza Stop, but the sauce at Joe's seems to have more of an herbal flavor profile than Pizza Stop's, which has a tomatoey brightness with a bit of natural acidity. For a regular NY style cheese slice (which to me is still my all-time favorite style of pizza, the one I fell in love with the first time I had the real thing in the City), I think I prefer Pizza Stop's. To me, a simple, straight-ahead tomato sauce is a better fit on a "plain" cheese slice, where it's essential to keep the three components - crust, sauce and cheese - in balance. But Joe's sauce worked beautifully on the Grandma's pizza, which I guarantee you I will be eating again. For that pizza in particular, but also for continuing to serve consistently good pizza in general, I'm bumping Joe's up to an A.
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, 1100 Jefferson Rd # 23B. 424-5637
Mon. - Tue. 11 AM - 9 PM, Wed. - Sat. 11 AM - 10 PM, Sundays 12 AM - 8 PM

15 comments:

  1. the only bad thing about this place is that its next door to five guys, which sets off a mental battle between my two favorite foods every time i'm nearby.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmm - I never really gave a thought to trying Five Guys. May have to do that sometime, although not going to Joe's would indeed be tough.

    ReplyDelete
  3. don't let the fact that its a chain scare you off, it's easily the best fast food burger i've had in rochester.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I appreciate your blog but to call Jefferson Rd a "cultural wasteland" is misguided and unfair. While it is true that there are countless chain restaurants like Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, etc. There also is either on Jefferson Rd or within a few blocks of it you many very good places to eat. You can find 4 Indian restaurants, 2 Korean restaurants, Tokyo Sushi, El Parain Mexican, A Jamaican Restaurant and perhaps a few others I am forgetting. I live in Henrietta and rarely find a need to leave it dine.

    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wasn't trying to imply that there aren't good places to eat in Henrietta. I've eaten at a number of the restaurants you mentioned, and I'll do so again. But visually, the scene along Jefferson Road is so dominated by chain restaurants and big-box retail stores that the good, independent places (which are often far less prominent - take the Korean place in the Regional Market, for example, which is downright hard to find) that they feel to me like oases in a desert.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is this the place that used to be in Midtown?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm not sure about Midtown, although that sounds right. He did have a place in the Irondequoit Mall for a while, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Place is a joke... would be pretty good if they weren't RUDE and take FOREVER to make a simple pie. When it comes down to it, product is OK but definitely not worth the attitudes of the owners. They should take a pizza making class to speed up the process! Plus i have seen them be down right offensive to customers...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've seen similar comments on RocWiki but I have never witnessed any rudeness myself. That's unfortunate but if it is an ongoing problem I hope they can straighten it out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm not here to comment on the atmosphere of these places but will say- it seemed like everyone behind the counter was young, hard working, and aware they were working in a pizza joint in the middle of a parking lot next to a trendy burger joint. Seemed like this place was uprooted from a Brooklyn neighborhood. It was nice to see so many young, good looking people producing something edible for a change. My experience was positive and the customers all seemed to be having a great time. The slice of pizza I had with scallions on it was very tasty and unique. I will have to try the standard pepperoni in order to do an accurate review of their pizza.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Eric, thanks for all your comments. I like to get other people's input on these places, whether it agrees with my opinions or not.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We haven't encountered the 'rudeness' some of the reviews seem to refer to. Always prompt and polite. We are partial to their white garlic pizza, but will try the grandma's next time.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was just there last night and they were very polite. I got a grandma's, by the way, but I noticed that white pizza on the menu. It does sound good.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I stopped there yesterday afternoon at about 3:30. It was my first time there after purchasing a "Big Deal" for them. I have to agree that the Grandma's was excellent (I had this in the Sicilian style). I also had a slice of the White Garlic in Brooklyn style (the only way they had both flavor varieties available). I did not find the employees to be rude at all, and also had no problems using my Big Deal certificate. I plan to go back again there in the near future, as the slices were fantastic! I agree with your "A" rating on the Grandma's. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Look for an upcoming post on several more items at Joe's, probably within a week or two.

    ReplyDelete


View Rochester-area pizza places in a larger map