After one or two fits and starts, Clemenza's recently opened in Mendon, next door to the Cottage Hotel. I tried to go there recently, only to find a sign on the door stating that the opening had been delayed, but I made it back next week and found it up and running, just in time for Mendon's Fire Department Carnival.
I got a large pizza, half pepperoni, half cheese, which is always tricky, because the cheese tends to brown before the pepperoni gets crisp, but I've got to try to please the family.
I'll say right off the bat that I was pleasantly surprised by this pizza, from the time I opened the box and took a look at it. It was thin, with nicely browned though not overcooked cheese, a thick, crusty cornicione (edge), and a lightly charred underside. The charring was a bit uneven, with some areas more done than others, but not too bad.
And appearances in this case were not deceiving, as this proved to be pretty good pizza. It was a bit on the cheesy side, but generally well balanced, with a straightforward, tomatoey sauce that had a nice, bright flavor. The crust was fairly crisp on the outside, though as with the charring, the cornicione was softer in some areas than others. The interior of the crust was nice and chewy, and the cup and char pepperoni was crisp along the edges.
Clemenza's offers 25 pizza toppings (including one of my favorites, fresh garlic, which you don't see often enough around here), though at this point there are no specialty pizzas on the menu. They also do wings, of which I got a dozen. They were nice and meaty, my only quibble being that I ordered them mild with hot sauce on the side (family again), but what I got were considerably hotter than mild. I see now on the menu that Buffalo wings only come in medium and hot, and I would've appreciated it if they'd advised me that they have no true "mild" sauce. Sweet-and-sour and Cajun (dry rub) wings are also available. You'll also find hot and cold subs on the menu, along with a few Italian dinners and various sides.
You never know what to expect with a new pizzeria, and though I always hope for the best, I've often been disappointed. It's never good to take the first bite of a pizza and realize that it's just not very good, and now you've got this entire large pizza to deal with.
But not this time. On the whole, this was rather enjoyable pizza, with a pretty decent crust and good flavor. I look forward to trying Clemenza's again, but for now I'm going to peg it at a very respectable B+.
6 Victor Mendon Road, Mendon 14506. 624-5545
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. noon - 10 p.m.