As part of my occasional forays into Buffalo-area pizzerias, here's a look at Just Pizza, a small chain with about a dozen locations mostly around Buffalo, but with one in Florida (for the snowbirds, I guess).
Just Pizza boasts "Over 75 Varieties" on its menu, which sounds good, but ... ever go to a Chinese restaurant and see 300 dishes on the menu and think, "They can't possibly do all of those well?" Maybe pizza's that way too. I got a Buffalo chicken slice, thinking, well, if there's anywhere to get a good Buffalo chicken pizza, Buffalo should be it, right?
Well, perhaps. But this one didn't thrill me.
The slice was thin, and rather oily. It had a fried-dough texture and aroma, and I'm not talking about the deep-fried dough they sell at carnivals. This was more like a pancake that had been cooked on a griddle with too much melted shortening on it. As you can see in the bottom photo, the crust didn't hold together well, and despite being fairly soft, it broke when I folded it, suggesting that the gluten wasn't well developed, or perhaps again the oil had something to do with it.
Sauce is a key component with Buffalo chicken pizza. There are three basic categories: tomato sauce, hot sauce, and blue cheese sauce, or some combination of those. I haven't settled on a preference, so it's interesting for me to try different approaches. This sauce was was topped with a blue cheese sauce, blended, I think, with a bit of mozzarella. The cheese was well browned.
Somewhere in there was some heat. I didn't see any hot sauce, but I could taste it. Small bits of chicken were interspersed across the surface of the slice, so maybe the chicken had been tossed with some hot sauce. Or perhaps there was a thin, but not particularly visible, layer of hot sauce under the cheese. But the heat/chicken/blue cheese balance was pretty good.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but to me, good pizza starts with the crust. I'd rather have a good crust with skimpy or not-so-good toppings than a poor crust with tasty toppings. Sadly, this fell into the latter category. The overall flavor wasn't bad, if you like blue cheese, which I do. I might've preferred thicker chunks of chicken, but that's just a quibble and that's just me.
But this just wasn't a good crust. And I don't think that's just a matter of personal preference. I can't imagine anybody taking a bite of this and saying, wow, not that's a good crust!
Then again, I can't imagine anybody actually liking raw oysters, and yet I know some people do. Or maybe some people just don't pay much attention to the crust, as long as the toppings are good. I don't know. But as American Idol judge Randy Jackson has so eloquently, and so often, stated, this just wasn't good for me.
I am not rating Buffalo establishments, since I know I will never come close to covering the Buffalo pizza scene. But this was somewhere below average.
Just Pizza, 2350 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.