Friday, July 2, 2010
Mark's, Winton Place
Lyell Avenue location in Rochester. Some readers commented that the Lyell location wasn't the best Mark's to go to, and I've seen more than one thing said about the Mark's in Winton Place, so I've been meaning to check it out sometime. And now that the Mark's on Lyell has closed (at one point a sign in the window said that Paradiso would be opening there), I figured it was a good time to do that.
This was considerably different from the pizza I got at Lyell. In fact, if I hadn't known otherwise, I never would've guessed that they both came from the same chain.
For starters, this was much thicker than the Lyell Mark's pizza. The crust was nearly an inch thick. It had reasonably good flavor and texture - not outstandingly bready, but not gummy, and it was cooked through, without the raw-dough flavor of some crusts.
The concentric rings of round bumps underneath indicated that they had been in a dimpled pan. I'm not quite sure what the theoretical advantage of such a pan would be, but the underside here was medium brown, dry to the touch, and firm but not crisp.The outer edge was pretty good, bready and a little crisp. The lip had been crimped, sort of like a pie crust, so that it had a sort of knotty appearance.
The sauce was moderately applied and very middle-of-the-road in flavor. Tomatoey, but not especially sweet, salty, herbal, or acidic.
The thin but uniform layer of mozzarella was pretty well browned, and though not burnt, it seemed a bit dried out (which I don't think was from spending too much time on the warming rack - they were quite busy at lunch time, and slices were moving quickly).
Mark's menu is available on their website, and the Winton menu here. On my visit to the Winton Place Mark's, they had several different slices available, nothing too unusual or remarkable as far as I could tell. And compared to some places today, Mark's pizza menu is relatively basic, with eight specialty pizzas and about 15 toppings to pick from.
The Winton Place location is pretty much a takeout and delivery place only, although there are a few picnic tables nearby. One thing I'd read about the Winton Place Mark's was that service was good, and it was. Did they "treat me like family," as their five-second ad says? Well, for me that depends on which of my relatives you're talking about, but the counter guy was friendly and seemed to make an effort to connect with each customer and to provide good service. Noticing that the first slice he'd given me was on the small side, he purposely picked out a bigger one to go with it, to balance things out.
Speaking of balance, that brings us back to this pizza. It was pretty good, but for me, the crust was just a little too thick. It's not that I dislike thick crusts per se, but they tend to knock a pizza out of balance - in other words, they dominate the other components. You could try to compensate for that by adding a lot of cheese, a lot of sauce, and other toppings, but to me, pizza is one of those things where less is sometimes more. Better to make the crust a little thinner, so you get a more subtle interplay between the crust, cheese and sauce.
I'm sure if you order a whole pie from Mark's you can get it thin if you ask, but you can't do that when you walk in for a slice, and from what I saw a lot of people go there to get slices. So I'm reviewing what I had, which is all I can do.
At the same time, I know that's just my subjective preference, and I can't say this was a poorly made pizza. Certainly it was filling, and if you like thick crusts, this was not bad. If I wanted a thick crust, I'd probably opt for a nice, crunchy Sicilian slice over this, but this was, well, all right. I'll give it a C+.
Mark's Pizzeria, 3450 Winton Place, 292-5140
Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight