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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Martino's, Long Pond Road, Revisited, Part I: thin-crust pie

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Way back in September 2009, I did a review of Martino's on Long Pond Road. Based on the one slice that I got that day, I gave them a C-minus.
Well, I knew that Martino's was better than that, so I determined to go back. I'm sorry it took this long, but I have been back twice relatively recently, and got a different type of pie each time. Here's my first report.
On my first visit, I ordered a large pie, half plain, half pepperoni, with a thin crust. Any pizzeria ought to be able to make your crust to order, thickness-wise, but Martino's specifies that option on their menu, and I generally like thin crusts, so I got it thin.
Well ... this wasn't bad. Let me say that up front. But it points up something I've thought for a while now, which is that you should generally get a pizza the way that the pizzeria normally makes it. In other words, if a place specializes in New York style pizza, don't ask for it thick, and if they specialize in Sicilian, don't ask for it thin. There are exceptions (like Nino's, which does both well), but generally, let them do what they do best.
And at Martino's, as at most pizzerias, I think it's best to get it "regular." This crust was indeed thin (or "skinny," as the menu describes it), but very floppy. It just didn't have much of a backbone.
Partly that's because it was so thin. The crust on this pie was literally translucent in spots. It was also not particulary well done. New York style thin crust is so good, in part because it gets good and crisp, from baking for just a few minutes at very high temperatures.
This pie, on the other hand, seemed to have baked at a relatively low temperature. It certainly wasn't raw or anything like that, it's just that the crust never really firmed up too much, and more time in the oven probably would've just overcooked the toppings.
That makes some sense, if Martino's regular pizza is thicker than this. A thicker crust will generally call for a "lower, slower" approach, to allow it to cook completely through. A super-hot oven would just singe the outside and leave the interior like raw dough.
So while I wasn't a huge fan of this crust, I can't fault Martino's too much for that one. Next time I'll know better than to ask for a crust that's thinner or thicker than "regular."
But again, this wasn't bad pizza. At the very least, it was good enough to make me think that it would've been really good with a thicker crust.
As it was, the crust had a dry bottom, with a dusting of cornmeal. The thin lip was slightly charred in a few spots, suggesting some radiant or convective heat, but the relatively pale bottom indicated that the baking surface (conductive heat) wasn't particularly hot (perhaps it was baked in a pan?). I'm sure some more knowledgeable people could offer an explanation.
There was a fair amount of grease in the bottom of the pizza box, but the bottom of the pizza itself wasn't really greasy, so I presume this was oil that had seeped down from the top side of the pizza, after oozing out of the cheese and pepperoni as the pizza baked. The finely shredded mozzarella had congealed together, covering the entire pie except for an inch-or-so-wide margin along the edge. The pie was also lightly dusted with a grated cheese (Romano?), although I couldn't pick out its flavor.
This was a fairly saucy pizza, particularly considering how thin the crust was, but the sauce was in pretty good balance with the cheese. It had a straightforward, tomatoey flavor. The pizza as a whole seemed just a bit salty to me, but I wasn't sure if that was coming from the sauce or the cheese.
I'm not going to complain about generous toppings, but the sauce and cheese here, though in balance with each other, were almost too heavy for such a thin crust. The overall flavor was good, though, so again, with a thicker crust I think this might've been a real winner.
Not that it was a loser, by any means. I had no trouble downing several slices in one sitting. But I did make a mental note to order my next one "regular."
And there indeed was a next one. But that's a review for another day. It'll be posted soon.
Oh yes, the grade. Well, since I've got another Martino's review in the pipeline, I'll hold off on a grade for now, and assign a grade when I do the next post.
Martino's, 1742 Long Pond Rd., 14606, 247-5030
Mon. - Thu. 8 a.m. - midnight, Fri. 8 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sat. 10 a.m., - 1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

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