Thanks to a reader, I found out about a new place in Fairport serving pizza, Vinny’s Bakery & Deli. It didn’t take me long to get out there to check it out. Having had mixed results with pizza from Italian bakeries/delis, I was cautiously optimistic.
Upon entering Vinny’s, you’ll find several rows of shelves holding various pastas and canned foods, many of them imported, and a deli counter toward the back. There were two varieties of pizza slices when I visited, “regular” pepperoni slices and Sicilian slices. I got one of each.
The pepperoni slice was medium thick, and had a dry, blistered underside. The crust was nicely risen, with large air holes throughout its interior. The narrow edge was quite firm, but still pleasantly chewy.
A thick, slightly salty, tomatoey sauce covered almost the entire slice, right up to the outer edge, and was topped with a solid layer of tangy cheese. There was a sharpness to the flavor of the cheese that led me to think that it contained more than just ordinary mozzarella, though I can’t say for sure. The pepperoni was wide and thin, and rather spicy.
At some pizzerias, a Sicilian slice might be little more than a thicker, pan-risen version of their regular pizza, but not so here. The Sicilian slice was markedly, qualitatively different from the pepperoni slice. Yes, it was thicker - a good inch thick - but that wasn’t all. The underside had an oily sheen, yet was not particularly oily to the touch, and was considerably more browned than the pepperoni slice.
This slice was also topped differently, with its most prominent feature being the abundance of fresh garlic. Well before I got the slice to my mouth, my nostrils were greeted with the scent of garlic, and bits of fresh chopped garlic were evident across the surface of the pizza.
There was also less cheese on this slice, with a combination of shredded and grated cheeses sprinkled atop the sauce. It was difficult to identify them, what with all that garlic, but there was a lactic tanginess that leads me to think that one of them was Romano. The sauce, which I think was the same as on the pepperoni slice, was liberally applied, which helped balance out the thick crust and add some moisture.
In addition to pizza and imported packaged foods, Vinny’s offers a variety of deli meats and cold subs, breads and baked sweets. I picked up a sausage-stuffed bread (bottom photo), though I gave it to an elderly friend so I can’t say if it tasted as good as it looked.
When I visited, there was just one woman working behind the counter, and she was dealing with a pretty steady lunchtime crowd, so I wasn’t able to get any details about Vinny’s. I did catch her Italian accent, though, and even aside from that I have a strong feeling that much of what you find here is pretty close to something you might run across in Italy. Though I’ve never been to Italy, the Sicilian pizza here particularly struck me as having a certain authenticity to it, with its glistening underside, sprinking of sharp cheese, and marriage of garlic and tomatoes. It seemed to me that the Sicilian was more like Vinny’s “regular” pizza, with the thinner pepperoni pie something of a concession to American consumers (as evidenced by the little kids who were behind me in line with their moms, all of whom wanted the pepperoni pizza).
I do intend to go back sometime, and maybe I can do it at a time when Vinny’s isn’t quite as busy, so I can chat a bit with the proprietors. And I already know what I want - I spotted potato pizza on the menu. Until then, I’m giving Vinny’s a B+.
Vinny's Bakery & Deli, 1350 Fairport Road, Fairport 377-4200
8 a.m. - 8 p.m. daily