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Friday, December 17, 2010

Martusciello's - Full of Surprises

Last February, I reported on the array of pizzas available from Martusciello Bakery's display case.While I wasn't completely bowled over by the pie that I got, I did love the sheer number of choices, and the visual appeal of all those different pizzas, ready to go.
But that still left me wondering what a fresh, made-to-order pizza from Martusciello's would be like, so the other day I ordered a pie to go.
I was met by several surprises along the way, beginning with the ordering process. After asking for a medium pepperoni pizza, I was asked what else I wanted on it. I'm not sure what my exact response was, but I must have expressed some confusion, because the girl had to explain that she meant, what else did I want besides pepperoni? Did I want sauce as well? Cheese?
This was a first for me, and I answered yes to both questions. That was followed up by another - did I want mozzarella? Initially I said yes, but then inquired what my choices were. The answer was the standard deli list, provolone, Swiss, cheddar, etc. I settled on a combination of mozzarella and provolone, with a little Romano thrown in for good measure.
The next surprise came when I picked up the pizza and was handed a big, sheet-pizza style box. I was afraid that perhaps there'd been a mixup, but as it turned out, the box contained a normal size, medium pizza, with plenty of room in the box to spare. Either they were out of smaller boxes, or they mostly sell sheet pizzas and don't bother to stock smaller boxes.
A visual inspection of the pizza yielded still more surprises. First off, I'd been expecting something along the lines of what I'd seen in the display case, but this really didn't resemble those pizzas much at all. It was roughly square, for one thing, and the cheese was on top, with the pepperoni underneath.
There was quite a bit of cheese, too. Maybe I got more cheese than normal because I asked for three varieties, but this was a cheesy pizza (I didn't notice if I was charged for extra cheese, though I don't think I was).
The crust was pretty thin, and tended to break apart, from itself and from the cheese, when I attempted to extricate a slice.
The underside was not especially greasy, although the bottom of the box was soaked with oil, and the underside did have the telltale yellow-brown tint of oily dough. There was also some yellowish oil visible on top that apparently had exuded from the cheese.
The crust was firm, but not all that crisp. There wasn't much evidence of the dough having risen, either visually or in terms of the texture, which lacked the bready chewiness of some crusts.Along the edge, the crust was formed into a crunchy, thin lip.
The cheese was well melted, but not to the point where it had all melted together. The provolone had been applied in full slices rather than shreds, and I was easily able to separate it from the mozzarella and peel it off in individual slices.
Under the cheese, there was an abundance of pepperoni slices, of the wide, thin-cut variety. It had a somewhat spicy flavor.
What was most remarkable about the pepperoni, however, was how much of it there was. In many spots, it was 2, 3, 4 or more slices deep. Had each slice been applied separately, it would easily have covered the entire surface of the pie.
A thin layer of sauce came next. It had a fairly thick consistency, and a cooked-tomato flavor. I could detect some herbs in the background, but otherwise it was pretty middle-of-the-road, neither very salty nor sweet.
Underneath it all lay the Romano, which had been sprinkled on in a relatively moderate amount, but enough to add a distinctive, sharp tanginess. Good idea there, putting it on first, as Romano, having little moisture, tends to dry out completely if it's baked on top of the pizza.
All in all, this was a very unusual pizza. I liked it, more perhaps than I would've expected. It was rather messy to eat while hot, with the crust breaking apart and all, but it tasted good. And the leftovers may have been even better the next day, eaten cold. The cold tended to firm up the crust a bit - probably from the oil hardening - and although the cheese had dried out a bit, it was still tasty.
As I was eating this pizza, I found myself thinking, "I shouldn't be liking this," given the unspectacular crust and the heavy layer of cheese, which to me tends to throw a thin crust pizza out of balance. But sometimes good is good, regardless of one's preconceptions about what pizza should be like, and I did enjoy this one. I don't think this would be my go-to pizza on a regular basis, but I'll give it some props for flavor and sheer uniqueness, enough to rate a solid B from me.
Martusciello's Bakery, 2280 Lyell Ave., Rochester 14606, 247-0510
Mon. - Fri. 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sat. 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Sun. 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Last orders accepted one hour before closing.

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