Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Grandpa Sam's, Spencerport
Grandpa Sam’s is an Italian restaurant in the village of Spencerport. It’s a family-run affair, and while it’s been open for just a few years, there’s a certain family history behind it, as you can read on the back of their menu.
Unlike some Italian restaurants, Grandpa Sam’s serves pizza. I had a Margherita pizza at dinner recently.
This 10-inch pizza had a golden brown underside, which had a little exterior crispness, but not much. The medium thick crust was tasty enough, though like a lot of pizzas I’ve had in restaurants, it was not especially bready. I wondered if the dough had been enriched with shortening of some sort (most likely oil), though I really don’t know if it was. Curiously, the crust was thinnest along the edge - no lip on this one.
The basic Margherita toppings are tomatoes, cheese and basil, for the red, white and green of the Italian flag. The red portion of that triad here was composed of both sauce and chopped fresh Roma tomatoes. For out-of-season tomatoes, these weren’t bad. The sauce, however, got kind of lost between the crust and the cheese, which was laid on rather thickly. It seemed to be all processed mozzarella, and was well melted and stringy. The shredded basil was detectable, but mostly stayed in the background.
Grandpa Sam’s pizza offerings are pretty basic - just the Margherita, a white garlic pizza, and a create-your-own option with nine available toppings. The rest of the menu is quite extensive, however, with pretty much every local Italian favorite represented, from pasta (gluten-free pasta is available) to beef, chicken and seafood. Particularly noteworthy are the eight different ravioli selections, and there are some interesting appetizers too; my arancini (filled, fried rice balls served with marinara sauce) were very flavorful. The dessert case is also worth a look, and I’ll give a thumbs-up to my house-made tiramisu (with salad and bread as well, this was one of the more filling dinners I’ve had lately).
This pizza’s a little bit tough to rate. A lot of the other Margheritas I’ve had have been baked in wood-fired ovens, and I can’t fairly compare this one with them. A better basis for comparison might be other restaurant pizza. I’m still not sure why pizza at a restaurant should be much different from pizzeria pizza, but it usually is. This wasn’t bad, but it did fit that general restaurant-pizza profile, particularly with regard to the crust, which was OK but not superb. And to me, ideally a Margherita, with its simple, basic components, should have a certain understated subtlety to it, which is not how I would describe this pizza, with its heavy layer of cheese and two forms of tomatoes.
I can say from having eating at Grandpa Sam’s before that their food is quite good. It’s a nice place to stop for dinner, with a casual, relaxing atmosphere. So it’s no insult to their pizza to say that I prefer their pasta dishes to their pizza, which I’ll give a B-.
Grandpa Sam’s Italian Kitchen, 138 S. Union St., Spencerport 349-7267
Mon.- Thu. 5 p.m.- 9 p.m., Fri. 4 p.m.- 10 p.m., Sat. 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.