Note, Aug. 15, 2011: this establishment was formerly a second location of the downtown pizzeria, The Pizza Stop. It is no longer associated with the Pizza Stop and is now operating under a different name, although ownership and management remain (partly) the same as when it opened. The following review was written shortly after this pizzeria opened and remains here as an historical record.
It took 24 years, but earlier this month the Pizza Stop finally opened a second location, on Empire Boulevard in Penfield (though most people probably think of it as Webster). Naturally I was eager to try it, although I pretty much knew what to expect: the same, authentic New York style pizza served at the original on State Street. While consistency can be an issue when a pizzeria has multiple locations, I didn't expect that to be the case here, as the new Pizza Stop is run by the son of Pizza Stop co-founder Jim Staffieri. And sure enough, the pizza here was, to my palate at least, virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Ordinarily, I would go for a cheese or pepperoni slice, or one of each, but on this visit, fresh slices of the meatball parm pie were available, and I could not resist. And, just to change things up a bit, I got a white garlic slice as well.
The crust on both slices was, of course, thin, although the meatball parm slice was noticeably thinner than the white. And both were nicely charred underneath.
As I was eating the white slice, it occurred to me that one hallmark of a great crust is that you can fold it in half without breaking it in two, but when you do, small surface cracks should appear on the underside. That shows the proper balance of pliability and crispness, and the white slice had that exactly.
That slice was topped by a uniform layer of mozzarella that was dusted with dried herbs. The top was bit oily though I'm not sure if that came from the cheese or from the actual application of olive oil. It was also quite garlicky, in a good way. I couldn't see any garlic, so I'm assuming it lay under the cheese (I gobbled it down too quickly to stop and check). But I'm pretty certain from the flavor that this was chopped garlic, not garlic powder.
Oddly, the white pizza doesn't seem to be on the printed menu, so maybe it was a daily special. Or maybe it just got left off the menu for some reason.
As I mentioned, the meatball parm slice was quite thin. With the relatively heavy toppings, it almost had to be folded, though the underside still had some outer crispness. I've described Pizza Stop's meatball parm pizza before, and this was essentially the same, so I won't repeat myself here. But it was very enjoyable, a great blend of flavors, a bit spicy, and quite moist - almost "juicy" - without being sloppy. And despite its thinness, the toasty, crisp-yet-chewy crust made a great base for the toppings.
The menu here is pretty close to the State Street Pizza Stop's, with some variations. The most noticeable difference is that wings are available here. There are also a few specialty pizzas that don't appear on the menu at State Street (although you could probably special-order them there, as all the toppings are available).
The space here is not huge, but there's fairly ample seating. And although they were fairly busy when I stopped, there was not the mad rush that you sometimes see downtown, so the atmosphere was a bit less hectic.
To get down to specifics, the white pizza here was rather minimalistic, with little more than dough, cheese, garlic, some herbs and perhaps some olive oil. That's really getting back to pizza's roots - tomatoes didn't arrive in Italy until after Columbus, remember - but it was almost too minimalistic for me. Still, it was executed well, and that's just a matter of my personal preferences. And the meatball parm slice was, as I said, very enjoyable.
In more general terms, Pizza Stop seems to have pulled it off - opening a second location that's as good as the original. So once again, a solid A rating from me.
Pizza Guy note: as a reader pointed out, Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, which opened last year in Henrietta, is in the same family, literally and figuratively, as the Pizza Stop. Although the sauce at Joe's is a little different from Pizza Stop's, the pizzas are pretty similar, so you might consider Joe's as a third, unofficial branch of the same pizza family tree.
Pizza Stop, 1773 Empire Blvd., Penfield 347-4050
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 8 p.m.
Pizza Guy note, 12/22/10: The Empire Boulevard Pizza Stop is no longer affiliated in any way with the original downtown location.
Pizza Guy note, 4/26/11: for a more recent review, go here.