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Friday, October 29, 2010

Lemoncello, East Rochester

Lemoncello Cafe and Lounge on Urbanspoon
Lemoncello Café in East Rochester has gotten a fair amount of press lately, with recent reviews in both the Democrat & Chronicle and City. But neither of those gave a tremendous amount of attention to Lemoncello's pizzas, so, with that in mind, I hope to avoid going over ground that's been covered by others.
Before I get to the pizza, though, allow me to digress for a moment. Just a pet peeve, but if you're going to choose a foreign-language name for your establishment, don't "dumb it down" by misspelling it. According to an earlier piece in City, Lemoncello is named after Limoncello, an Italian liqueur and digestif, but the owners "decided to change the spelling to make it more accessible for non-native speakers." In similar fashion, Le Bon Vie restaurant in Penfield misspells the French phrase "la bonne vie" ("the good life"), presumably because "le bon vie" - which improperly mixes masculine and feminine word forms - is supposed to be easier for non-French-speakers to read or remember. I'm not sure why that bugs me; maybe it's because it strikes me as condescending to the clientele, though I'm sure that's not the intent. But if you're a business owner, and you honestly think that your customers are going to have trouble with a correctly spelled foreign name, then why not pick a different name? I know, I'm probably the only person in the area who's pedantic enough to be bothered by that, but what can I say? We all have our hangups.
OK, back to the matter at hand:  a couple of friends and I recently had lunch at Lemoncello, one of the latest entrants onto Monroe County's suddenly burgeoning wood-fired pizza scene (which *sigh* remains almost entirely east of the river). The day being a bit too chilly to enjoy Lemoncello's patio, we were escorted past the front dessert-and-coffee bar to the back room, a cozy spot with an eclectic, distinctive decor, a small bar, and several tables.
One of my two companions and I each ordered a pizza, while the third member of our party got a panini and fries. I ordered a Napoli, which is essentially Lemoncello's version of a Margherita, as it is topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. My friend, meanwhile, got a "Berlin," with tomato sauce, mozzarella, hot ham and mushrooms. (Nearly all the pizzas at Lemoncello are named for cities, though the connections were not always apparent, at least to me.)
Both pizzas were very thin, though the crusts were a little bit different from each other. The crust on the Napoli was dry underneath, and well browned in some areas, suggesting some hot spots in the oven. The underside was not really crisp or crackly, though it was quite firm, and didn't bend easily. The Berlin had a softer, somewhat floppy crust, but neither crust seemed to have risen much, and they lacked any real interior or crusty chew, with a texture that brought to mind a thin biscuit or chemically leavened flatbread.
Again, both of these were red pizzas, topped with a mildly seasoned tomato sauce. Despite being applied rather thickly, the sauce on the Napoli seemed a bit dried out, perhaps simply from evaporation in the oven. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since it concentrates the flavors and helps keep the dough crisp. The sauce on the Berlin, on the other hand, lying under a thick blanket of cheese, presumably hadn't lost as much water through evaporation, and the crust had indeed turned a bit gummy after spending a while on the plate.
The fresh mozzarella was plainly visible on the Napoli, but didn't have much of a presence. It seemed to have been sliced rather thinly, and tended to hide behind the more prominent flavors of the sauce. The same is true of the fresh basil, small shreds of which were scattered here and there, but not in enough quantity to make much of an impression on my palate.
As mentioned, the Berlin was covered by a thicker, more widespread layer of (processed) mozzarella. Not being a fan of mushrooms, I only sampled it, but in general it was characterized by bolder, more assertive flavors than the relatively understated Napoli.
Lemoncello features 13 red and 6 white pizzas on its menu, with some interesting topping combinations, perhaps the most unusual of which is the eponymous Lemoncello pizza, with olive oil, prosciutto, shaved Parmiggiano, fresh arugula, fresh tomatoes and lemon juice. First time I've seen lemon juice on a pizza, I think. Prices for each personal-size pizza run from $10.95 to $14.95. There's a fairly broad selection of other, mostly Italian, selections on the menu, including the aforementioned panini (which my friend enjoyed, along with his crisp, lightly seasoned fries). A full dinner menu is available after 5 p.m.
This is another review where I look back at what I've written and think, gee, this reads a lot harsher than I intended. I think that happens because it's often easier to find fault with pizza - well, with just about anything, really - than to identify what's good about it. Perfection, after all, is often simpler than imperfection (think of a perfect circle, for instance), as well as harder to describe (what's easier to describe - a beautiful face or an ugly face?). The more that a thing falls short of its Platonic ideal, then, the easier it is to point out its various flaws.
All of which is my way of saying, these weren't all that bad, but they did have, from my perspective, some flaws. The crust seemed rather lifeless, for one thing, and though the toppings tasted all right, they were a bit out of balance on my Napoli, with the fresh mozzarella and basil overshadowed by the tomato sauce. While the Berlin had good flavor, its crust also committed the sin of being gummy, which is particularly noticeable when the crust is that thin. On the plus side, there were some good flavors at work, and the crust on my Napoli was at least somewhat crisp. So while I wouldn't call these "average" pizzas (in the sense of being "typical" of local pizza), I think they deserve an average grade, and I'll give them a C.
Lemoncello Café and Lounge, 137 W. Commercial St., East Rochester 14445, 385-6741
Café open Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m. till (?), Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. till (?). Back bar and lounge open 4 p.m. till (?) daily. Kitchen open Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sat. noon - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Word about Comments

I've deleted a couple of comments in the past few days. Let me just state a few ground rules:  generally, I let comments stand. I won't delete them simply because I disagree with them or because they are critical of me. I will delete them if they use profanity, if they are spam or intended only to promote someone's commercial enterprise, or if they contain personal attacks on individuals or could be considered defamatory. I also reserve the right to come up with additional grounds for deletion, in my discretion, as the need arises. Just so ya know.

Mark Your Calendar: Irondequoit Pizza Challenge, November 13

As reported by News 10 NBC, the Summerville Presbyterian Church will hold the Irondequoit Pizza Challenge on Saturday, November 13 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at the church on St. Paul Blvd. (near Lakeshore Blvd.). Competitors include Mark's Pizzeria, Pontillo's Pizzeria, Salvatore's Pizzeria, Cam's Pizzeria, Cordello's, and 2 Ton Tony's. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, children (under 12) $3 and families (four members) $15. Attendees will get to sample all the contestants' pizzas and vote for their favorite. Proceeds from the event will benefit the church. For more information, visit www.summervillechurch.org.

Rochester NY Pizza Blog Named One of the Nation's Top Pizza Blogs!

Culinary Arts College, "a non-profit site dedicated to elevating American cuisine by encouraging a new generation of chefs to attend a culinary arts college," has named the Rochester NY Pizza Blog one of the country's top pizza blogs. The author describes yours truly as having "a knack for describing pizzas in such a way that you’ll be on your way to making a delivery order before you’re done with the site."
I'm not sure about that, but hey, recognition is always nice. If you agree that the Pizza Blog is a good one, do me a favor and take a minute to vote for it as Rochester's "Best Local Blog" in City newspapers' Best of Rochester 2010 poll. Winning wouldn't accomplish much other than feeding my ego, but man does not live on pizza alone, so we can all use a bit of that from time to time. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perri's Lyell Ave. - New York Style Pie

Perri's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
I've previously reported on Perri's, both the one on Lyell Avenue and the one on Norton Street, and while I wasn't thrilled with the slices I got at either, I knew they were capable of better. So with that in mind, I recently returned to the Lyell location for one of their "New York, New York" pies.
This is an 18-inch pie that seems similar to me to the pizzas from which its individual to-go slices are cut, although I think those come from bigger pies. The underside was golden brown, screen-marked, and mostly dry, though there was some oily sheen, and quite a lot of grease had soaked into the bottom of the box.
The crust was quite thin, as expected, and the slices were easily foldable. The underside was not at all crisp, and there was not much of an interior crust to speak of, though there was no gumminess or other unpleasant characteristics. The edge was formed into a very thin lip and was rather crunchy.
As far as the toppings are concerned, the cheese, sauce and pepperoni were pretty well balanced. The cheese was tangy and a bit salty. Its texture was more chewy than creamy and I wondered if part-skim mozzarella was used. The sauce had a tomatoey flavor, with just a touch of herbs noticeable, and stayed mostly in the background. The cup and char pepperoni was not quite crisp, but pleasantly chewy.
One thing that struck me when I went to pick up this pizza was how many employees were working there at once. I counted twelve people behind the counter. That's neither a criticism nor a judgment of any sort, just an observation; I couldn't imagine why there were so many employees at work at the same time, or what they could all be doing. Oh well.
They do, though, turn out pretty decent pizza. Is this authentic New York style pizza? Eh, not exactly. I was recently in the Big Apple, and for all the pizzas I tried, I don't think one was at all greasy underneath. Nor did I see any screen marks. And they were all at least somewhat crisp underneath. This one fell short in all those respects. It had the makings of a very good pizza, but as it is, the crust stands in the way of greatness. It was good, but not quite great, and I'll give it a B.
Perri's Pizzeria, 2000 Lyell Avenue, Gates, 14606, 247-4040 Daily 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Other locations at: 528 Stone Road (at Dewey) in Greece, 14616, 865-5050 Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
and
1733 Norton Street, Rochester, 14609, 266-0030 Daily 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carmine's Express Nikki's New York Style

Carmine's Express on Urbanspoon
Having just returned from New York City, where I sampled as many local pizza parlors' wares as I could, I thought it might be a good time to look at some local versions of New York style pizza.
We'll start wtih Carmine's Express on Elmgrove Road, which offers "Nikki's New York Style," which is described in the menu as "thin crust - red sauce with a hint of garlic flavor and mozzarella cheese." For some reason, it only comes in one size, 14 inches in diameter.
The crust on this pie was very thin indeed; the crust and cheese together measured about a quarter inch thick. The interior showed little evidence of the dough having risen, though the light brown underside was marked here and there by some concave pockets suggesting that some bubbles had formed on the bottom. The crust was a bit oily to the touch, with an overall oily sheen on top and bottom. As is true of genuine New York pizza, these slices folded easily. They lacked crispness, though, and were floppy and soft. After the pie had cooled a bit, the thin lip along the edge turned rather hard, which is a sure sign of oil.

The pizza was topped by a uniform layer of orangey, well-browned cheese. There was very little sauce in between the crust and cheese. Some dried herbs were visible atop the cheese, and the aroma was a blend of french-fry-like cooking oil, garlic (powder, perhaps) and herbs.
In its own, slightly weird way, this pizza was sort of good. Sort of. Well, almost. It was kind of tasty, at least, between the cheese, herbs, and flavor-conveying oil. But New York style? I think not. A good New York pizza achieves an almost magical balance between crispness and pliability, with crust, sauce and cheese likewise staying in Zen-like balance with each other. This pizza was more like a soft, thin layer of dough topped with cheese, a smidgen of sauce and some dried herbs. Again, not the worst combination, but not great either, and certainly not New York style pizza. I won't deduct points for failing to be true to style, but on its own merits, I have to give it negatives for the soft, slightly greasy crust as well as the relative lack of sauce. I think a C- feels about right on this one. Carmine's Express, 3872 Lyell Rd. at Elmgrove, Gates, 14606, 247-7575 Also at 400 Ridge Road W. at North Ave., Greece, 14626, 225-5111 Gates hours: Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Greece hours: Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - midnight

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mama's Pizza Kitchen, Lake Ave.

Mama's Pizza Kitchen recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Little D's, on Lake Ave. in Charlotte, and Charlotte Pizzeria before that. It's always seemed particularly risky to me to open a business in a location where several others have tried the same thing and failed, but maybe Mama's will be the one that breaks the pattern.
I stopped in for a slice around lunchtime. There were a few cheese and some pepperoni slices available. The pie from which they had been cut had been unevenly sliced, so that some slices were noticeably bigger than others. I got one of the larger cheese slices.
It had a thin crust, with a golden brown, screen-baked underside. The exterior of the crust was firm but not crisp, and easily foldable. The interior was soft and a little chewy, and the outer edge was formed into a thin, narrow lip with a crunchy texture.
The slice was topped with a thin, uniform layer of well-browned cheese, which had exuded some of its fat, creating a somewhat oily surface. Dried herbs were visible atop the cheese, and added some flavor and aroma.
The sauce, on the other hand, was hardly to be seen. Peeling away the cheese, I could see a bit of sauce here and there, but not much, nor was it very evident on the palate. Flavorwise, this was almost like eating a white pizza, with the crust, cheese and herbs all sharing the spotlight, while the sauce remained very much behind the scenes.
Mama's has quite an extensive menu, with 28 pizza toppings, five specialty pizzas, calzones, wings, a long list of "bomber" sandwiches, wraps, melts, subs, salads and sides. There's a little room to eat in if you choose, but it's mostly a takeout place.
So will Mama's Pizza Kitchen succeed where others have failed? Time will tell. Based on this one slice, though, I think the pizza needs a little work. More balance, for one thing. This really needed some of the acidity and sweetness of tomato sauce to balance out the oily, congealed cheese. And the crust was passable, but a bit lifeless, without the crackly crispness or bready aroma and texture of a great pizza crust. So while this wasn't all that bad, it was a notch below average, and I'll give it a C-, with a mental note to go back sometime and see how things are coming along.
Mama's Pizza Kitchen, 4410 Lake Ave., Rochester 14612, 581-0222
Tue. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sat. noon - 2 a.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m. Closed Mon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NEWS FLASH: Domino's Cheese Comes From ... COWS!

Have you seen these TV ads with the supposedly real Domino's consumer focus group, where the walls of the room suddenly fall away and the people are surprised to find themselves on a dairy farm? The point being, I guess, to show where the cheese on Domino's pizza comes from?
My first reaction was, am I supposed to believe that these people didn't realize that they were really sitting in a fake set, in the middle of a field? Were they drugged or blindfolded first? That made no sense at all.
But besides that, is it supposed to come as a surprise that the cheese on Domino's pizza is made from milk? Or that milk comes from cows? I mean, I never cared much for Domino's pizza, but I always assumed they used real cheese. Did that many people really think otherwise? "Nawww, get outta here! Cows? You kidding me? Next you'll be telling me that the dough is made out of wheat! Or that the sauce comes from tomatoes!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scotland Yard, St. Paul St.

Scotland Yard Pub on Urbanspoon
It's taken me a while to get there, but I finally made it to Scotland Yard, a St. Paul St. pub with a wood-fired pizza oven. Part of the reason was that until recently, Scotland Yard wasn't open for lunch, when it's easier for me to run out and grab a quick pizza, while dinner mostly takes place at home with the family. But I do get out for dinner now and then, and so it was the other night, when I ate at Scotland Yard.
From the list of nine specialty pizzas, I chose the Marguerite, which is topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, and red sauce. I've seen "Margherita" pizza (named for an Italian queen) misspelled Margarita (nobody seems to know for sure whom the drink was named after), but that's the first time I've seen it given a French spelling. Well, a Margherita by any other name would taste as good, non?
I've had enough wood-fired pizzas around here by now to appreciate the differences from one restaurant to another, but also to make certain generalizations. Typically, they range from thinnish to almost paper thin, with at least some charring underneath and along the edge. Depending on certain variables, they can be anywhere from knife-and-fork floppy to stiff-as-a-board crisp.
This one was closer to the paper thin, floppy end of things. The crust was so thin that it had no real interior to speak of, and was more chewy than crunchy. The underside was browned, in a mottled kind of pattern, but was one of the less well-done wood-fired pizzas I've had, with nothing that I would call actual charring. A companion's white pizza was darker underneath, with a spotted pattern of light charring underneath.
The white pizza was also considerably crisper and firmer than my red pizza. Part of that is probably due to its being more sparingly topped, with garlic, olive oil, and a light sprinkling of mozzarella, Asiago, and Parmesan cheeses. Though the toppings on my pie would not have been particularly heavy on an ordinary, thicker-crusted pizza, they were more than the Marguerite's thin, lightly baked crust could bear; attempts to pick up an individual slice invariably resulted in the toppings simply sliding off onto the plate. After two or three unsuccessful tries, I gave in and asked the bartender for a knife and fork.
As for the flavor -- one of the reasons that I like a slightly charred crust is that it imparts a toasty, sometimes smoky flavor to the pizza. The crust on this one didn't add much flavor. Instead, the relatively thick layer of tomato sauce, combined with the slices of fresh tomato, made this a tomato-dominated pizza.
The cheese was more of a passive presence. The menu describes it as fresh mozzarella, and I won't dispute that, but the consistency seemed more like that of processed mozzarella. I didn't have any particular complaints about it, mind you, it simply had a thicker, less creamy texture than what I expect from fresh mozzarella. The fresh basil was sparsely applied, and added little more than color.
Scotland Yard's other pizza offerings include a chicken Caesar pizza, which is made with olive oil, garlic, Asiago, and mozzarella, "topped with a chicken Caesar salad." I'm not sure if I'd like it, but I'd like to see that. I assume the salad goes on after the pizza comes out of the oven? There's also a "Dragons Breath" pizza with "dragon sauce, chicken, cheddar, asiago, red onions, and Scotland Yard sauce." I don't know what the difference is bewteen dragon sauce (which is described as an "Asian inspired, spicy garlic sauce" and Scotland Yard sauce, but again it sounds intriguing. And again, I need to start asking more questions when I'm looking over the menu, so I can find out these kinds of things. You can also build a pizza by choosing any three of Scotland Yard's sixteen toppings, for the same $10 price as most of its specialty pizzas. Non-pizza offerings include "dragon wings," salads, sandwiches, wraps, and sides, including the either whimsically- or pretentiously-named "pork infused beans."
While its name suggests a faux English pub, Scotland Yard is, thankfully, more of an Americanized version of that venerable institution. There's a long bar up front, with several TVs tuned to sports channels, a few small tables near the front window, and several more in back. The dark wood paneling helps create a relaxing setting, and the overall atmosphere is something of a cross between a pub and an American tavern. There are several beers on tap, and while the draught lineup is not particularly Anglocentric, beer aficionados should find something to their liking among the several microbrews available.
Now - getting back to that pizza - Scotland Yard's website says that they use Wood Stone ovens, which come in wood-fired, wood/gas, and gas-fired configurations. I'm not sure if Scotland Yard is using an all-wood-fired oven or a wood/gas combo, but this pizza was not what I've come to expect (or at least hope for) from a wood-burning oven. It wasn't so much the floppiness per se -- I mean, the pizza I got at the Humphrey House was kind of floppy, and I liked it a lot -- as the lack of any genuine charring, or crisp outer bite to the crust. Also, while I hate to complain about getting overly generous toppings, this crust simply couldn't hold up under the weight of these toppings. I'm OK with eating pizza with a knife and fork, which is how it's generally done in Italy, I'm told, but as I've said many times before, I look for balance in a pizza, and in this instance the crust seemed to get lost under the tomato slices, sauce, and cheese, with the basil coming in a distant fourth. Next time I think I'd opt for something lighter, perhaps a white pizza with a few vegetable toppings.
As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that it sounds as if I really disliked this pizza, which I didn't. It tasted good, I ate most of it, and my wife loved the leftovers I brought home. I was just a little disappointed with some aspects of it, perhaps a victim of my own preconceptions. But to try to bring some measure of objectivity to this review, I'd say that while this fell short in a couple of areas for my taste, it was still a better than average pizza, and worth paying a visit to Scotland Yard. So I'll give it a B.
Scotland Yard Pub, 187 St. Paul St. 14604, 730-5030
Food Served Sun. noon - 8 p.m., Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Cocktails Served Sun. noon - Till, Mon. - Thu. 4 p.m. - Till, Fri. 4 p.m. - 2 a.m., Sat. 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pudgie's, Goodman & Norton

Pudgie's Pizza on Urbanspoon
With the closing of Pudgie's on Titus Avenue, I thought it was a good time to check out the only remaining Pudgie's in Rochester, at the corner of Goodman and Norton. (There is another Pudgie's in Canandaigua, and more links in this small family-owned chain in the Southern Tier.)
Pudgie's seems to do a pretty steady business of selling slices during the day, and that's what I got. My pepperoni slice was medium thick, with a soft, pancake-like bottom. The crust was not especially greasy, but had a spongy texture that I didn't care for.
The sauce was moderately applied, and had a slightly sweet flavor. The cheese was nicely melted, just a little browned, and stringy. The pepperoni was unremarkable. The sauce and cheese covered the slice nearly to the outer edge, which was not much thicker than the rest of the slice, which is nice if you don't like a big, thick, crusty edge on your pizza.
Pudgie’s offers a pretty wide variety of pizza toppings, and quite a few non-pizza items as well, including wings, subs, pasta and seafood. Pizzas come in 12- and 16-inch sizes, sheets, and a 12x12 deep-dish pie that I might try sometime. You can order online, although I kind of like to hear a human being take my order so I have some assurance that they got it right.
There were some things I liked about this pizza. It was pretty tasty overall, and the melted cheese and slightly sweet sauce worked well together. But I wasn't too crazy about that crust. Too soft and too spongy. But the flavor was good enough for this slice to rate a C+.
Pudgie's Pizza, 1753 N. Goodman St. 266-6605
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - midnight

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dario's, Farmington

Dario's Famous Pizza on Urbanspoon
At the southeasternmost reaches of the rough geographical scope of this blog lies Dario's Famous Pizza, about two and a half miles south of the Thruway on Route 332. I made the trek out last week and grabbed a couple of slices.
The crust on these was thin, though not super thin, maybe a quarter inch thick. They were quite well charred, even blackened underneath. They did get a quick warmup in the oven, which might've made them a shade darker too.
The undersides were lightly dusted with cornmeal, and were crisp on the surface, though the slices were foldable. There was a certain amount of oil or grease on both top and bottom, most of it, I think, having exuded from the cheese and pepperoni.
This pizza was fairly heavy on the cheese, which was nicely melted mozzarella. The sauce was just lightly seasoned, with a mild tomatoey flavor, and stayed mostly in the background, though the pizza as a whole had a "wet" mouthfeel, with moisture from both the cheese and the sauce. They finished off with a crackly outer edge that had a pleasing, bready interior.

Dario's has a pretty basic menu, with eight specialty pizzas, wings, hot and cold subs, salads and sides. There are a few booths along one wall, but not a lot of seating.
This was pretty good pizza. The crust was nice and crisp, thin but with some interior chewiness, and the flavors came together nicely. The cheese seemed to dominate a bit over the sauce, for my taste, but this was good enough to rate a B+ from me.
Dario's Famous Pizza, 1560 Route 332, Farmington 585-398-3430
Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pizza Blog on "Best of Rochester" Final Ballot

City Newspaper's released the final ballot for its "Best of Rochester" survey today. The contestants in each category are the top four vote-getters from the preliminary, write-in ballot last month. The pizzeria choices are Little Venice, Mark’s Pizzeria, Pontillo’s, and Salvatore’s. I have some thoughts about that, but I'll save them for later.
I'm happy to say that The Rochester NY Pizza Blog is on the ballot in the Best Local Blog category. Thank you to all who voted, and please cast your ballot in the finals!

Beer and pizza tasting at Sully's

I don't mind passing this along ...

Naked Pizza Coming Our Way

I'm not sure how we got blessed with this, but along with NYC, Phoenix, Orlando, San Diego, Boston, New Orleans, Denver, and Dubai, Rochester has been chosen as a future location of Naked Pizza. It's supposed to be good for you, I guess. Or good for the environment, or both. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be good, though. We'll see.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Carbone's, Hilton

Carbone's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
In May 2009, I did a post on Carbone's on Dewey Avenue. I gave it a C+ for flavorfull toppings but a crust that was a little gummy. That relatively poor review prompted one loyal Carbone's customer to compare me to a Holocaust denier, so while it's taken some time, I have made it back, this time to the Carbone's in Hilton.
I got a single pepperoni slice, which was very fresh out of the oven. It seemed a little bigger than the slices I got last year at Dewey.
The medium-thick crust on this slice had a browned underside, with no screen marks. It was a bit greasy, with an oily sheen, a soft texture, and a slight aroma of cooking oil. Fortunately, the interior of the crust was better than the outside, with some bready chewiness.
The toppings also weren't bad. The cup-and-char pepperoni was nice and crisp, and the browned cheese was melted but not burnt. The only reason it looks so sloppy in the photograph is that the pizza was so hot, having just emerged from the oven.
The sauce had a distinct, though not overpowering flavor of herbs - oregano and basil among them, I think - and was moderately applied, in good balance with the rest of the components.
Carbone's has a relatively modest pizza menu, with nine toppings, just one specialty pizza (a white pizza with fresh garlic, olive oil, Romano and "spices"), and a "double dough" option for those who like it thick. They also do hot and cold subs, wings, chicken fingers, french fries and mozzarella sticks.
At the risk of being subjected to more unfavorable historical or cultural comparisons, I can't really give this pizza high marks. The flavor was OK and all, but that crust was too soft and too greasy for me. I'd call this an average slice of pizza for the Rochester area, so I'll give it an average grade, a C.
Carbone’s Pizzeria, 144 South Ave., Hilton 392-1111
Mon. - Thu. 3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., Sun. noon - 9:00 p.m.

Fresh Mozzarella

If any pizzeria owners are reading this, could I just ask that you consider adding some offerings using fresh mozzarella? It's occasionally available at pizzerias around here, but all too rarely. I know it's not as easy to store as the processed kind but it can't be that difficult, as it's not uncommon to see it in NYC, even at basic slice joints. Not only is it the best cheese for Margherita pizza, but it's great on white pizza as well. For my taste, too many white pizzas around here are cheese-heavy, with ricotta on top of processed mozzarella. Way too much cheese, if you ask me, plus to me, ricotta just doesn't work that well on pizza. But a thin layer of olive oil topped with some dollops of fresh mozzarella? Outstanding, literally - a pizzeria offering that around Rochester would truly stand out from the crowd.

View Rochester-area pizza places in a larger map