Ferrara's on Spencerport Road in Gates, because I well remember going to its predecessor of the same name on Titus Avenue back around 1990. It was there that I first tried a Margherita pizza, and it was love at first bite.
That establishment closed years ago, and since then I thought that all I had left of it was my fond memories. So to find out that Ferrara's had been reborn in Gates was truly exciting news for me.
Since its reopening earlier this year, I've published posts about Ferrara's Margherita and potato pizzas. Recently I went back yet again, for a simple half-pepperoni pie, but this also gave me the chance to speak for a few minutes with Jimmy, the owner.
I learned from him that Ferrara's was in business for 23 years in Irondequoit, and that it was founded, owned and run by Jimmy's brother Angelo. Their parents moved here from Sicily, where Angelo was born - Jimmy was the first, and only child born in the States. (Methinks I see a research topic here - how many local pizzerias are run or were started by Italian immigrants?) Angelo started off here as a barber - another venerable Italian-American profession (next good question - why does barbering seem to be such a peculiarly Italian trade?) but eventually got into the pizza business, fortunately. I appreciate a good barber, but with all due respect to barbers, a good pizzeria, for me, is to be treasured.
I always wondered why a pizzeria as good as Ferrara's closed, and the simple explanation is that Angelo decided to retire. Pudgies went into that spot for a while, but has since left, and now the space is used by some other, non-pizza-related business.
In the meantime, Jimmy, who spent a number of years in various food-related jobs, most recently as Sam's Club, decided to resurrect Ferarra's. He had been involved in the earlier incarnation, and with Angelo on board as an informal consultant, Ferarra's was reborn, to my great delight.
Now all that wouldn't mean much if the new Ferarra's weren't as good as, or simply were different from, the original. But as faulty as human memory can be, it is, from what I've read, remarkably accurate where our senses of taste and smell are concerned. And as far as I can tell, Ferarra's hasn't missed a beat.
Now as I mentioned, my prior experience with Ferarra's was pretty much limited to their Margheritas; I'm not sure if I ever tried anything else there. But I loved the potato pizza, and this was a winner too.
I don't like to order half-plain, half-topping pizzas, because often either the topping half don't get cooked enough, or the cheese half gets overcooked, but when you're feeding a family you sometimes have to make compromises. But this was pretty good, with thin sliced pepperoni that was just a little crisp along the edges, and cheese that was just slightly browned. High marks also for the non-greasy pepperoni.
The crust was on the thick side, with a dry, somewhat floury bottom. It was very bready, and a little crisp along the edge. A thick bed of mozzarella lay atop a sweetish layer of sauce, which had a cooked-tomato flavor. The toppings and crust were well balanced.
This was, for me, not quite the standout that Ferarra's Margherita or potato pizzas are, but that's no knock on this pizza - given its style and toppings, it simply falls more within the mainstream of American pizza, whereas the other two are more distinctive and unusual.
But for what it was, this was very good pizza, in what to me is the classic Rochester style - somewhat thick, with generous helpings of cheese and sauce, and square cut (not that the cut affects the flavor, but it just seems to me that most traditional pizza around here is cut into squares, rather than pie wedges). And most importantly, the crust was spot on, for this style - not greasy, just a little crisp, with a bready interior. This pie was a fine example of this local or regional style, and was well above average generally for local pizza, so I'm giving it a B+.
Ferarra's Pizza, 485 Spencerport Rd. 14606 247-6777
Tue. - Thu. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 4 p.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Mondays.