Rochester NY Pizza Blog Rochester restaurants LocalEats featured blog

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spot, East Ave.

Spot Coffee Rochester Cafe on Urbanspoon
About a month ago, Spot Coffee on East Avenue reopened after a six-month-long hiatus during which it was remodeled inside. In addition to the physical changes, Spot also expanded its food menu to include "gourmet" pizza.
I'm never quite sure what to make of that self-aggrandizing "gourmet" label when it's attached to anything, and all too often it's an unintended warning that what you are about to eat is not nearly as good as its description would have you believe. But after recently trying one of Spot's new Margherita pizzas, I am pleased to report that this was not the case here. This was actually quite good.
Like the "gourmet" moniker, the menu's misspelling of the 19th-century Queen of Italy's name as "Margharita" did not fill me with confidence, but my doubts were quickly dispelled when I got my pie. It had a nicely charred crust, thin in the center, encircled by a wide, thick, bready cornicione. There was some exterior crispness along the edge, and the interior of the cornicione was airy but chewy, in a bready kind of way. My fingertips detected just the slightest hint of oil along the edge, but it wasn't at all greasy.
This pie was pretty saucy, topped with a thick sauce in which some dried herbs were visible, although the flavor was more sweet-tomatoey than herbal. I always hate to complain about being given too much of anything, but for me this ran close to an excessive amount of sauce for such a thin crust.
Atop the sauce, the melted fresh mozzarella was just slightly browned, but still soft and stretchy, not rubbery. A smattering of shredded basil added good flavor, and appeared to have been added at the end (as it should be), as it was still green and fresh-tasting.
Spot offers five other pizzas, but no a la carte pies, although I can't imagine why you couldn't get a plain cheese pizza or a pepperoni pizza (which would simply be Spot's "New Yorker" minus the mushrooms). And they've got sandwiches, salads, breakfast selections, baked goods, and of course plenty of coffee drinks.
After some initial uncertainty, then, this pizza was a pleasant surprise. The crust was very good, though a bit short of perfection, and the other components were also very enjoyable, though I thought the generous helping of sauce threw the pie slightly out of balance. Those minor quibbles prevent me from giving this one my highest grade, but this was good enough to rate an A- from me.
Spot Coffee,200 East Avenue Rochester 14604. 613-4600
Mon. - Fri. 6 a.m. - midnight; Sat. 7 a.m. - midnight; Sun. 7 a.m. - 11 p.m

Monday, June 27, 2011

Penfield Wegmans

I did a post about the pizza at the Pittsford Wegmans back in January 2010. I thought it was a decent, if not outstanding, approximation of New York style pizza, and gave it a B-minus.
Since then, I've heard from more than one person that the pizza at the Penfield Wegmans is very good, so I finally got around to checking it out. Supposedly Penfield has a certain type of pizza oven that's supposed to result in better, crisper pizza.
I got a cheese slice and a white slice. I was initially slightly peeved when the server didn't give me the biggest slice out of the cheese pie, which was unevenly cut, with some slices noticeably bigger than others. Yes, I could've specified which one I wanted, but to my mind, the server should always pick out the largest slice (ideally, of course, the slices would all be the same size, but that's another matter).
All right, well, I got over that. How was the pizza?
A bit disappointing, I'm afraid, after I'd been led to believe that it would be quite good. The underside of the cheese slice was a pale yellow, with some corn meal visible. It was topped with a moderate amount of cheese that had exuded an orangey oil that I generally associate with cheaper ingredients.
The slice was floppy and very foldable, so much so that I could roll it up without any cracking or crackling on the surface of the underside. There was some nice crunch along the thin lip at the edge, but otherwise the crust was rather dull and not at all bready.
It was generously topped with a thick tomato-pasty sauce, and while I hate to complain about getting too much of anything, the sauce was almost too heavy for such a thin crust.
The crust, at least, on my white pizza slice was a little better, with several browned, though not charred, spots underneath. The slice was foldable, but cracked a bit down the middle when I folded it in half, which was a good sign, and it was indeed more crisp than my cheese slice, with a breadier flavor, aroma and texture. The lip was considerably wider than on the cheese slice, with the result that the cheese got pushed off closer to the tip.
The moderately applied cheese was bubbly and brown on top, and was dusted with flecks of some unidentified dried herbs. A garlicky aroma emanated from the slice, but it seemed more like garlic powder than fresh garlic to me, and I did not see any bits of actual garlic anywhere (what I at first took to be finely chopped garlic turned out to be Romano).
Overall, however, this slice seemed a little "flat" to me, flavorwise. I know a white pizza is apt to have a more subtle flavor than a red pizza, but this just seemed a bit dull-tasting to me.
Neither of these was a terrible slice of pizza. On the contrary, they were pretty decent. But again, I'd been expecting something better from this particular Wegmans location. The cheese slice tasted pretty good, but had a less-than-stellar crust, and the white slice had a much better crust, but was lacking in flavor. I'm giving both of them a C.
Wegmans Penfield, 2157 Penfield Rd., Penfield 14526. 248-3200

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brickwood Grill, Monroe Ave.

For a long time, there's been some eating or drinking establishment at 250 Monroe Avenue. Most recently, that address was the home of Woody's, and before that there was O'Donahue's, which I vaguely remember. I'm sure there were other proprietors before that, since the place just looks as if it ought to be a bar or a restaurant.
Recently, this address went through another name change - it's now The Brickwood Grill. And that's not all that's changed - there's now pizza on the menu, which led me to pay a visit last week.
It had been some time since I was in this space, but it didn't seem to me to have changed much, physically. Not that there was a lot of reason to change things - it's always been a fairly attractive spot, with a lot of dark wood fixtures that lend a touch of class, although in the past, that effect wasn't always apparent, such as at 1 a.m. when the floor was sticky and the atmosphere redolent of stale beer and testosterone. I don't know what it's like here late on weekend nights these days, but lunchtime saw a mix of patrons, maybe 75% male, most of whom probably work in the neighborhood.
Though the name might lead you to think that the Brickwood uses a wood-fired brick oven, that's not the case. I didn't actually confirm that, but there's no indication on the Brickwood's website or menu that they use a wood-fired oven.
Nor is there any indication from the pizza itself. My 10-inch pie had a very thin and floppy crust, with screen marks on its mostly pale gold bottom. The underside seemed a bit oily to the touch and was not too crisp, except along the edge, where there was a little crackling and some crunch. I also picked up a certain yeasty, fresh-baked aroma, as well as a hard-to-pin down aroma of oil and/or garlic that seemed to come mostly from underneath. The menu describes the dough as "brushed with garlic butter sauce," which likely explains that.
This was a pretty cheesy pizza, with a thick, solid layer of melted mozzarella. Bits of tomato were visible in the sauce, which was moderately applied and had a sweet tomatoey flavor.
The cup and char pepperoni was nice and crisp along the edges, with good flavor. One stray bit of mushroom had found its way onto my pizza, which didn't bother me too much (even though I hate mushrooms), though I would've been more upset if I had a mushroom allergy, which some folks do.
The Brickwood offers 12 pizza toppings, and three specialty pizzas (Margherita, Hawaiian, and Mediterranean). Ordinarily I would've gotten a Margherita, but this one sounded kind of odd - it's topped with sliced tomatoes, basil pesto, baby arugula, and fresh mozzarella, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. That's somewhat similar to the Margherita I had at Hose 22 last year, which I did enjoy, but unusual enough that I though a basic pepperoni pie would make for a better test of Brickwood's pizza.
The rest of the menu runs mostly toward bar food - burgers and such - with a few more substantial items like chicken parm, ribeye steak and lobster ravioli.
This was not bad pizza by any means, but it wasn't good enough to make the Brickwood Grill a pizza destination either. Again, maybe it was just the name, but I was hoping for something along the lines of a more artisanal-style pizza, and that's not what this was. Seeing the screen marks put me off a bit, and sure enough, the crust was missing the crisp bite to it that I really like in my pizza. It tasted fine, though, and if I were here with some friends and in the mood for pizza I might get it again. I'm also intrigued enough by the description of the Margherita that I will likely be back some time to try it out. As for the pepperoni pizza, I'd say it was pretty average, so I'm giving it a C.
Brickwood Grill, 250 Monroe Avenue, Rochester 14607
Phone:  730-8230 Email: info@brickwoodgrill.com
Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sat. & Sun. 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Website Review: Couponchief.com

If you do any online shopping at all, you may be cheating yourself if you aren't checking for merchants' coupon codes before buying. By now just about everybody who shops online is probably familiar with the concept - you simply enter a set of letters and/or numerals when ordering, which could get you, say, 15% off your total, or free shipping, or some other money-saving deal.
Chances are you've gotten these codes in your email from various merchants, but there's no need to restrict yourself to those. There are websites that collect these codes from across the web, and publish them for public use.
One such site is Coupon Chief. It's free, easy to use, and about as comprehensive as it gets. Just the list of online stores beginning with the letter A runs on well past what I could easily count; they claim to have over 100,000 overall, and I have no reason to doubt that figure.
That doesn't mean, of course, that every one of those merchants is going to have a current code in effect at any given time, or that whatever coupons are out there are going to be applicable to your order; for instance, there may be a minimum-purchase amount restriction, or there may be a deal only on certain types of items. The point is that it's worth taking a minute to see if you can save a few bucks, and if there is an active coupon for the site you're ordering from, chances are you'll find it on Coupon Chief.
One added feature of Coupon Chief is that you can not only save money, you can also earn some cash through their "Pays-2-Share" program. If you upload a coupon code to the Coupon Chief site, you'll earn 2% of the purchases that other users make utilizing your coupon. There's a $25 limit per online store, and some other fine print, but it beats what you'll earn at most other similar websites, which is nothing.
Coupon Chief also has a "Coupons-4-Causes" program, which allows you to select a favorite charity to receive a donation from Coupon Chief every time you shop online. Retailers pay Coupon Chief a commission for purchases made through the Coupon Chief site, and Coupon Chief will donate half that commission to the charity of your choice.
Coupon Chief is not the only website out there where you can find free coupon codes. If you simply want to find a code for a particular merchant, a Google search will turn up any number of sites where you can find one. But Coupon Chief does stand out from the crowd thanks to its Pays-2-Share and Coupons-4-Causes programs. Even if you don't participate in either of them, the Pays-2-Share program is a powerful incentive for users to upload coupons to Coupon Chief, so I think it's pretty unlikely that any online coupons that are out there will not show up on Coupon Chief very soon after they're issued. Frankly, I'd been mostly using, and was satisfied with, a different coupon site until now, but I'll be checking Coupon Chief for my future online purchases.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pizzeria 5, Ridgeway Ave.

Pizza Guy Note, 9/14/12: Pizzeria 5 is now closed. The space is now home to the second location of The Pizza Stop.
About a year ago, I did a post about Chili pizzeria Good Guys' second location on Ridgeway Avenue in Greece. I thought it was pretty good (as is the pizza from the Chili location) and gave it a B.
For whatever reason, though, Good Guys on Ridgeway has closed. Maybe it's a cursed spot for a pizzeria - Good Guys replaced another pizzeria, Constantino's - but yet another pizzeria, Pizzeria 5 (not sure what that means), is going to give it a shot.
I stopped by last week and got a couple of slices, one cheese, one Buffalo chicken. They were pretty thin, except for the very thick cornicione along the edge, which was quite puffy on the Buffalo chicken slice.
The undersides differed between the two slices. The cheese slice (bottom two photos) was dusted with cornmeal, and the underside was dry and what I can best describe as bumpy. The Buffalo chicken slice (second photo from top) was rather greasy underneath, which is not unusual for Buffalo chicken pizza, and which is one reason why I'm not a huge fan of this style. The cheese slice in particular was somewhat bready on the inside, and both showed signs of having risen nicely.
Though floppy, both slices tasted pretty good. The sauce on the cheese slice had a slightly herbal flavor, and the mozzarella was moderately applied, while the Buffalo chicken slice was topped with a few chunks of breaded chicken, a thin layer of oily, medium-hot sauce, and oily melted cheese. It was noticeably heavier than the cheese slice, not just from the chicken, I think, but because of the oil as well.
Pizzeria 5 offers 8 meat toppings, 9 vegetable toppings, and 6 "other" toppings (pineapple, garlic, black or green olives, anchovies, and extra cheese), plus 7 specialty pizzas, none of them too exotic or unusual. They also do wings, strombolis, burgers, plates, sides, and some sweets, including cinnamon buns, cookies, and ice cream by the pint.
This was, as I said, pretty good pizza. I did like the cheese slice better, and even taking into account my natural predilection toward "regular" pizza over Buffalo chicken pizza, it just seemed to be a better-made pizza, with a better crust and far less oil. But both crusts showed some good signs of a slow rise and internal breadiness, and both tasted decent enough. They were a little floppy, but still enjoyable, and I'd peg them at a B-minus.
Pizzeria 5, 2532 Ridgeway Ave. 225-5552
Mon. 11 a.m. - midnight, Tue. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A word about paid reviews

I have gotten some offers lately offering to pay me to review websites and products. I have accepted a couple of those offers, but I want to comment about that.
People who know me, who know that I write this blog, often say to me, "there ought to be a way for you to make money off your blog." Yeah, that would be nice, but the most obvious way would be to accept advertising from local pizzerias, which I won't do (some ads from national chains do appear on my blog through Googe Adsense, but I have no direct control over which companies do that, I don't have much interest in writing about those chains, and their ads would probably appear on the blog regardless of what I say about them).
Having said that, it does cost me money to travel to so many pizza places to review them. It's not just the cost of the pizza, but the gas money. So if I can defray my costs by reviewing a product now and then, that's not a bad thing, from my perspective.
I certainly don't want to take the focus off local pizza, though. So while a review or post about some non-pizza-related product may show up here from time to time, I will try to do that in addition to, rather than instead of, the pizza reviews.
One other upside is that sometimes these companies offer me products for reader giveaways. So I'll be doing that from time to time, too.
Bottom line, if you see a non-pizza-related post here once in a while, yes, I probably got something in return for it, but the pizza reviews will keep coming as frequently as I can crank them out, and those will not be paid reviews.

Buffalo Pizza Company

When I travel, I almost always try some local pizza places, but I don't typically write about them on this blog. It is the Rochester NY Pizza Blog, after all, and nobody's coming here looking for stuff about pizza in Orlando or Cape Cod or anywhere else outside this area.
But as I mentioned a while ago, I've been doing some traveling to Buffalo recently, and since most of us have occasion to head out that way from time to time, why not use that to check out, and report on, the Buffalo pizza scene?
On a recent trip, I stopped at Buffalo Pizza Company on Main St. The name sounded promising, too promising perhaps, as I was rather disappointed with my cheese slice.
It was medium thick, with that telltale pancake-like bottom, a mottled pattern of brown and off-white that signals a soft, oily crust. And that's what I got. It wasn't terribly greasy, but it was soft - no "bite" at all.
The slice was topped with a uniform, solid layer of browned mozzarella. Somewhere in between that and the crust was the sauce, which seemed to get lost in the mix. The thin lip at the edge had a bit of crunch, in an oily, fried kind of way, but it was not enough to save this rather soggy crust.
Since this review of a Buffalo pizzeria is just an "extra" on this Rochester-centered blog, I'm not going to give it a specific rating. I want to keep the ratings for places closer to home, because if people are searching the labels they're not apt to be looking for Buffalo pizzerias. But I will say that this wasn't so great. If you're heading to Buffalo, there are better places to grab a slice.

Buffalo Pizza Company, 1769 Main St., Buffalo (716) 881-1111
Open 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gianna's, Penfield

In March 2010, I posted a review of Bonafede's on Linden Avenue, giving it a very respectable B+ for well-balanced, tasty pizza on a pretty good crust.
I also mentioned that I had not been aware of Bonafede's existence until a short time prior to that post, partly because I've never had much occasion to travel on that stretch of Linden Avenue, which is mostly residential; not the kind of area where you'd expect to find a pizzeria. (I think I learned of Bonafede's by seeing it listed in the Yellow Pages.)
Well, I don't know how much the location had to do with it, but Bonafede's is gone. In its place is Gianna's NYC Italian Kitchen, which has a roughly similar menu, but a different style of pizza.
Given the name of the place, it will come as no surprise that Gianna's pizza is more in the New York style than Bonafede's had been. The crust on my cheese slice was very thin, and though it wasn't exactly what I would call bready (which is tough to achieve with a thin crust), the dough had risen somewhat; it wasn't dense or gummy inside.
The underside was lightly dusted with corn meal. It was fairly light-hued overall, with some scattered charred spots, and was crackly and nearly burnt along the edge.

The slice was topped with a light layer of tomato sauce. It was not a particularly saucy slice, and I didn't pick up much flavor from the sauce.
Atop the sauce lay a coating of oily, orangey cheese. If you've had it, you know what I mean by "orangey." I don't mind it, but it's not the greatest melting cheese in the world, and I frankly can't recall ever having seen that kind of cheese in all the times I've been to New York City. It does have a certain inexplicable appeal for me, though, and with its light sprinkling of Romano, the cheese was actually kind of good.
Gianna's pizzas come in 16" and 18" sized, plus a 14" x 24" Sicilian. There are four specialty pizzas, plus calzones, wings, pasta, "heroes" (hot subs), and three hot dog choices - Zweigles, Nathan's, and Sabrett's, for that authentic New York "dirty water dog" flavor. They also offer something called Nutella pockets, which I've never heard of before but which I'd love to try, as I consider Nutella one of the truly great culinary concoctions of our time.
Based on this slice, I'd say that Gianna's pizza is one of those that I would consider more of an approximation than an exact copy of New York style pizza. That's not a putdown, mind you, as this was rather tasty, and it would be easy to polish off a few Gianna's slices in one sitting. But the cheese and the crust didn't seem to quite nail it as far as New York style is concerned. Still, it was good enough to rate a B- from me.
Gianna's NYC Italian Kitchen, 514 Linden Ave. 14625. 248-5040
Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Sat.: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Sun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clemenza's, Mendon

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+.
Clemenza's Pizzeria, 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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Freezer Meals

I was recently offered a copy of another book to review - actually a choice of several, from the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series. I've always had a certain philosophical objection to these kinds of books - I don't think you have to be an idiot or a dummy to want to read a basic primer on a subject - but titles aside, they can be good introductory books on their respective subject matters.
Although I could've picked any one of a number of recently-published "Idiot's Guides," my conscience wouldn't allow me to select something that wasn't food-related, since it was only because of this blog that I was given the offer.
There was nothing strictly pizza-related, so I opted for the Guide to Easy Freezer Meals. The idea behind this book is that you can spend a day in the kitchen and prepare many days' worth of meals, in order to save time later on. I'm not sure how many of us have the wherewithal to actually do that, but you'll find a lot of useful information in here even if, like me, you're just an occasional food-freezer.
The author, Cheri Sicard, is not a professional chef, but she has a fairly extensive background in both food and writing. She created and edited the FabulousFoods.com website (now owned by SheKnows.com), has taught cooking classes for Williams Sonoma, and is the author of The Low Carb Restaurant Guide, as well as numerous magazine and online articles on a variety of subjects.
The book is written in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner, which is well suited to its purpose; it's not going to win any James Beard awards, but if you're buying an "Idiot's Guide," you're probably looking less for captivating writing than for solid, practical advice, and in that regard, Easy Freezer Meals delivers. Anyone who attempts to prepare a weeks' worth of meals in a day had better be well organized, as Sicard herself appears to be. The first four chapters succinctly cover the basics of freezing food, kitchen equipment, grocery shopping strategies, and advice on making cooking day easier.
Like a well-stocked freezer, those chapters alone pack in a lot of useful information, but the bulk of the book is devoted to the recipes. Again, Sicard's knack for organization is evident, as she progresses from breakfast to lunch to dinner and dessert, interspersed with chapters on appetizers, snacks, breads and sauces. Several appendices include a useful glossary, a list of further resources, a "well-stocked kitchen" checklist, menu planning worksheets, and a list of recommended freezing times for various foods.
What caught my attention, of course, were Sicard's two pizza recipes, for "pizzeria-style" and whole wheat pizza dough. I haven't tried them, but my educated guess is that they'd produce reasonably good, but not outstanding pizza. The recipe for pizzeria-style pizza calls for about five minutes of mixing and machine kneading and a one-hour rise before either freezing or shaping the dough. Frankly, a one-hour rise at warm temperatures is not going to give you a particularly good crust -- better to let the dough rise slowly, even overnight, in the refrigerator.
But it would be unfair to criticize Sicard on that score, since the point of this book is to provide the reader with easy-to-make, relatively quick recipes for freezer-friendly dishes. If convenience is your paramount concern, and your plan is to make oven-ready frozen pizzas in a minimum of time, this will probably do just fine, even if the pizza doesn't live up to Sicard's claim that it'll be "just like you'd get at a pizzeria." But if you plan to freeze individual dough balls, and thaw, shape and top them later as needed, I'd probably give the dough a slow rise before freezing - it'll be just as easy, and the end product will, I think, be superior.
I do take issue with a couple of things in the pizza recipes. First, Sicard recommends using very warm water - 120 degrees. While she's right that the water will cool a bit when it hits the mixing bowl, anything above 110 is a dangerously high temperature for yeast. Even if it doesn't kill the yeast, I've read that a very warm fermentation tends to produce more unpleasant flavors, and in my experience, you'll still get a pretty quick rise if you're water's in the mid-90s.
Second, Sicard simply calls for "yeast," without specifying if she means instant or active dry yeast. She includes a proofing step (mixing the yeast with warm water and sugar and letting it sit for a few minutes until it starts to bubble), which suggests that she means active dry yeast (which requires proofing), but it would've been better to specify. I do think you could substitute instant yeast and skip the proofing stage without any significant effect on the rise time.
OK, enough technical talk. For my pizza making, I'll probably stick with the recipes and methods I've been using, which take a little longer but result in better pizza. Ironically, though, while I will probably never follow the recipes that I was most interested in reading, I found this a very worthwhile addition to my kitchen bookshelf. Though the thought of spending a day in the kitchen making a week's worth of meals may not appeal to you, most of us would still prefer to avoid tossing leftovers in the garbage, and it's a rare home cook who doesn't have occasion to freeze food - fresh or prepared - once in a while. Even if you're not an idiot, Sicard's well-organized, clearly written book is a handy resource when you're looking for some guidance on how to get the most out of your home freezer.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Freezer Meals by Cheri Sicard. 336 pages. (Alpha 2011.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chris's Village Way, East Rochester - CLOSED

Village Way Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
Note (8/15/14): this location is now the home of Luca Brothers Pizzeria.
Back in July 2009, I did a post on Mike's Village Way pizzeria in East Rochester, giving it a perhaps too-generous C for a rather greasy slice of pizza.
Not too long ago, I learned that the site is now occupied by Chris's Village Way, so I went there recently to check it out. Sometimes a name change is just a name change, and sometimes it's more than that, so I was curious to find out what kind of pizza I'd get from Chris's.
This time around, I got a medium pepperoni pizza instead of just a slice (in fact, they didn't seem to have any slices available when I went to pick it up at lunchtime). It had a medium to thick crust, and the browned underside bore some dimpled pan marks, but it was reasonably crisp and nicely bready inside.
The crust was topped with a bright tomatoey sauce and a moderate layer of melted mozzarella. Like the other components, the thin slices of pepperoni were applied in good balance with the crust. The whole thing was lightly dusted with Romano, and the thick, bready cornicione made a nice finish to each slice.
Chris's offers 20 pizza toppings, and five specialty pizzas, including a breakfast pizza. Pizzas can be ordered with a thin, thick, or "pan" crust. They also do calzones, wings, hot and cold subs, plates, pasta dinners, and a Friday fish fry.
This was pretty good pizza, and I enjoyed it more than the slice I got from the prior establishment. Though it didn't have the traditional square cut, I'd say it's in the Rochester style, a little thick, with a healthy but balanced amount of sauce, cheese and pepperoni. And the most important component, the crust, wasn't bad at all either. I think I'd have liked it even more if it had a little more toastiness underneath, but this was good enough to rate a solid B. I'll be back.
Chris's Village Way, 108 Main St., East Rochester 14445. 586-2919
Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. noon - 9 p.m.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guys Pizza Co., Pittsford

I recently learned of a new pizzeria in Pittsford named Guys Pizza Co. It's a Cleveland- based chain, and this is the first Guys location outside Ohio. (It also has no connection with Five Guys, which is a chain burger joint with a handful of locations in the Rochester area.)
I generally don't get too excited about pizza chains, but hey, this is new to the Rochester area, and so far it's the only Guys location around here, so I was curious enough to take a drive to Pittsford to check it out.
I was planning on getting a slice, and when I arrived, I noticed that their flyers on the counter contained coupons for a free slice, no purchase necessary. So that worked out well. I did but a drink, though, just so I wouldn't feel like a total cheapskate.
Unfortunately, the cheese slice that I got looked as though it had been sitting out for a while, so it wasn't at the peak of freshness, but I still got a pretty good idea, I think, of what their pizza is like.
Which is to say, not all that great. This slice had a thin to medium crust, quite thin toward the tip, and maybe half an inch thick toward the outer edge. The interior was dotted with tiny air holes, and though it wasn't a bad crust, it wasn't very breadlike either. The underside was brown and slightly oily, with a pancake-like appearance. There was a bit of crunch along the edge, but otherwise the crust was pretty unremarkable.
The sauce and cheese were in pretty good balance with the crust, with a moderate layer of each. The sauce was characterized by a somewhat sweet tomatoey flavor, while the browned mozzarella was adequate but again nothing special.
And that's about it. Again, not a bad slice of pizza, just not particularly interesting.
One thing I must say about chains, they generally offer a lot of options, and Guys is no exception. There's a long list of pizza toppings, four different sauces, and 13 specialty pizzas, including a "Garbage Plate Pizza." From their website, it looks as though Pittsford is the only Guys location to offer that particular variety, so I guess they're making some effort to adapt to their local community, which is nice. (Didn't Nick Tahou's register the term "Garbage Plate" with the trademark office, though?) You can also order your pizza half one variety, half another.
Guys' pizzas come in small, medium, large and "New Yorker" sizes (which I take to mean extra large and thin), as well as half and full sheets. They also offer Chicago-style deep dish pizza, "take & bake" pizzas, and their signature item, the "Legendary Guyzones," which the menu describes as a "massively delicious variation to Calzones," though I'm not sure what the "variation" is; they sound like calzones to me. Maybe they're just bigger.
Other menu offerings include salads, wings, quesadillas, wraps, "Guyninis" (a "larger version of a panini sandwich" - I think I see a pattern here), and a few dessert items, including Guys' verision of s'mores (which surprisingly are not called "Guys'mores").
A lot to offer, then, and maybe some of those items are really good. Since they really trumpet their "Guyzones," I guess I'd like to try one sometime. But this pizza didn't impress me too much. It was a bit below average, in my opinion, and I'll give it a C-.
Guys Pizza Co., 18 S. Main St., Pittsford. 248-2222
Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

View Rochester-area pizza places in a larger map