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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hugo's Italian Bistro

I'd driven by Hugo's Italian Bistro in Henrietta once or twice, but only recently did I learn that they were serving pizza. That's probably because until this past October it was known as Hugo's Market Cafe, which, I think, didn't serve pizza.
So the other day I made it there with some friends, one of whom got a pizza, so I was able to sample hers as well as mine.
I was torn between the Margherita ("homemade pizza sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and oregano") for $8.59, and the Traditional ("fresh made red pizza sauce with mozzarella, oregano, basil and pecorino Romano and the choice of one topping") for $7.59.  I ended up going with the latter, with the addition of roasted garlic and green olives. One of my friends also got a Greca pizza, topped with "a blend of pesto and red sauce, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, fresh roasted garlic, kalamata olives, oregano and basil topped with feta cheese."
Each of our pizzas was about the size of a dinner plate. The crust was on the thin side, golden brown underneath, and medium firm on the surface. The slices were quite pliable and easily foldable.
Both pizzas tasted good, although I have to give the edge to my friend's Greca for overall flavor. I didn't pick up a whole lot of flavor from the sauce on my pie, and the mozzarella cheese dominated. The cheese lent the pizza a bit of tanginess, and the salty olives and the garlic were welcome additions to what otherwise would have been a lackluster pizza, due to the relatively soft crust.
The Greca had the same crust, but more flavor. I'm always wary of feta cheese on pizza, because it can so easily dominate a pie, but this was well balanced, with the slightly sweet peppers, savory olives, herbs and garlic acting as a counterweight to the sharp, salty feta. I actually liked it better than mine, which seemed a bit boring by comparison.
Hugo's other pizza offerings include a bianca, with olive oil, roasted garlic, oregano, basil, Romano and a topping of your choice, and a verde, with pesto sauce, roasted garlic, mozzarella, baby spinach, Ricotta, basil, oregano, Romano, and Gorgonzola. But it's far from just a pizza place, with a wide variety of Italian dishes on the menu (unfortunately I don't have their full menu handy and it looks as if their website isn't entirely up and running just now, so I can't go into detail about the menu). There's also a full bar on one side of the dining room.
I really liked the flavor of these pizzas. And although some of the pizzas on the menu sound rather "busy," with lots of toppings, Hugo's seems to know how to use combinations that work well, and to use enough restraint that the pie doesn't get overwhelmed with the toppings.
I was less impressed with the crust. It wasn't bad, but it was only what I'd call serviceable. It got the job done, to act as a base for the toppings, but it wasn't very crisp or bready, and lacked the subtle complexities of flavor, aroma and texture that make for a great pizza crust. That's often the case with restaurant pizza - I suspect the ovens have a lot to do with it - and it was the case here. So all in all, good, and good enough to order again, but not quite great. I'll give these a B-minus.
Hugo's Italian Bistro, 3259 S. Winton Rd.
Tel.: 427-0540
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

2 comments:

  1. After close examination of the pictures you posted of the pizza’s you and your friends tried, my assertion is that the dough is not a prefab shell, and it is cooked relatively even on the bottom and top. Unless I am very wrong (which is unlikely) the dough and the oven are not the problem with the overall bake quality. The issue is the person manning the oven and/or it’s entirely possible, the pizza being served is considered ‘baked correctly’ and is the ‘desired overall look’ the business is striving to attain, with the objective being to offend, no one.

    STM

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  2. No, I don't think it was a shell either. I think it just wasn't cooked to the degree of crispness that I like. This seems to be common with restaurant pizza, and my hypothesis is that their ovens are set at a lower temperature than a typical pizzeria oven, since they also have to bake a lot of other dishes for which a very high oven temperature would be inappropriate. But it's just my guess.

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