Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Guida's, Honeoye Falls
Guida's has five locations around town, two of which - Empire Blvd. and Elmgrove Rd. - I've reviewed before (I've done several posts about the Empire location, so enter "Guida's" in the search bar to bring up all of them).
Recently I visited the Honeoye Falls Guida's, which also allowed me to sample some Guida's varieties I hadn't tried before, their Buffalo chicken pizza and their pan-risen Sicilian.
Although I've only tried a small fraction of the Buffalo chicken pizzas in this area, the ones that I've had have been broadly similar, up until this one. Most of the Buffalo chicken pizza I've had has been topped with either tomato sauce, with hot-sauce-laden chicken chunks added, or a thin layer of hot sauce, in lieu of tomato sauce. Blue cheese has usually been added in minimal quantities, if at all.
This pie, though, was striking for being topped with a thick layer of blue cheese sauce. It wasn't particularly pungent, and was essentially a mild version of the stuff that typically comes with an order of wings.
But more on that in a second. Let's start at the bottom, with the crust.
One thing I've tended to like about Guida's pizza is the crust, which is typically bready and usually crisp. This crust had the breadiness, but was rather soft. It was dry on the bottom, with no grease, and medium thick. There were several large bubbles along the edge, which was, again, nice and bready, with good flavor and a chewy, airy texture.
Atop the crust was a thin layer of medium-hot sauce, a moderate amount of melted mozzarella, a copious amount of breaded chicken chunks, and that creamy blue cheese sauce. With all those toppings, this was one filling pizza, and not for the diet-conscious. Even the individual slices were physically heavy (so lifting them does burn some calories, I suppose). With no tomato sauce, just chicken, hot sauce and blue cheese, this was indeed very reminiscent of Buffalo chicken wings, lacking only a side of celery.
I was perhaps looking more forward to the pan-risen Sicilian pizza. Although I've long known that Sicily has a distinctive style of pizza, it's often seemed to me that the name "Sicilian" tends to be slapped onto what otherwise would simply be called sheet pizza. And sheet pizza is all too often characterized by an overly crunchy, greasy crust that tastes as if it's been fried rather than baked, making it little more than a bigger but less desirable version of a pizzeria's regular round pie.
After trying some Sicilian pizza at places like Nino's, Joe's, Vinny's and Pizza Stop, however, I've come to appreciate that not every pizza labeled "Sicilian" around here is a mere greasy sheet pizza, and that the style has something to offer beyond mere thickness. A good Sicilian pizza can be crisp and bready, complex and subtle, and a welcome (if occasional, for me) alternative to thin-crust, New York or Neapolitan pizza.
Maybe, then, those changed perceptions heightened my expectations for Guida's version, but I was a bit disappointed with this pizza. To paraphrase Seinfeld, not that there was anything wrong with it, it just didn't thrill me.
The primary reason, I guess, was the crust. It was not oily, so it certainly got points for that, but it was quite soft. I know that I cannot expect a pan-risen pizza to have the same crispness as a good New York style pie, but to my way of thinking, there ought to be a bit of bite in the crust, and this one didn't have that.
That said, the crust did have an appealing bready flavor and good interior texture. So it wasn't bad, even if it fell a little short of my hopes or expectations.
The Sicilian was topped with a moderate amount of sauce, cheese and pepperoni, all of which were added in pretty good proportion to the crust. The sauce was a pretty basic tomatoey sauce, with some herbs in the background, and the cheese seemed like straight mozzarella, which struck the right balance between melted and browned. The pepperoni was of the ordinary wide and thin variety.
These two pizzas further showed that Guida's turns out some pretty good pizza, but of course not every pie will please every palate. Confounding my expectations, I actually preferred the Buffalo chicken pie over the Sicilian, although it was a bit too filling for my taste, kind of like eating chicken wings with a loaf of bread on the side.
The Sicilian was all right, but I wouldn't rank it among my favorites in this area. Think of it as a non-greasy version of sheet pizza, which isn't a bad thing; it just wasn't up there with what I consider the best of the bunch for this style.
I haven't been rating Buffalo chicken pizza, and I think I'll stick with that approach. This pie only confirmed that there are so many variations on this style that it's difficult to compare one to another, plus I haven't really formed any sharply delineated preferences yet. But if you want a pizza that combines the flavor of Buffalo chicken wings with the stomach-filling qualities of pizza, Guida's is for you.
The Sicilian? It was enjoyable, but not outstanding, and I'll peg it at just a cut above average, for a C+.
Guida's, 166 W. Main St., Honeoye Falls, 624-9380 Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m.