A couple of people have asked me to review the Cam's on Mt. Hope Avenue near Elmwood. I've made a couple of stops there, so here's a report.
I have found Cam's to be pretty consistently good. As regular readers know, I'm no fan of chain pizzerias, but I have been impressed with the job that Cam's does of turning out reasonably good, New York style pizza, at numerous locations. And this was, generally, no exception.
On one visit, I got a cheese slice and a stuffed slice, something I don't remember seeing before at Cam's. It may have been there all along, I just never noticed.
The cheese slice was decent, with some spotty, light charring underneath. It did seem unusually thin, so much so that the crust lacked any bready interior, except along the edge. Maybe it was just me, that day, but although there was a bit of toastiness underneath, the crust also seemed a tad bland, as if there wasn't enough salt in the dough.
A good New York style slice should strike a balance between crispness and pliability. This came close, but the needle seemed to be tilting a little more toward the "pliable" end of the scale. So while the crust was OK, it mostly served as a platform for the sauce and the cheese.
Speaking of which, the sauce and cheese were pretty good. The sauce was slightly sweet, with some herbs in the background, and the slightly browned cheese had a slight tanginess that balanced it out well. (Cam's menu says that they use Grande® mozzarella, which many pizza connoisseurs consider among the best.)
Next up was a slice topped with cheese and pepperoni, and stuffed with sausage and pepperoni. As you can see from the cross-section photo, it wasn't as heavy, or thick, as it sounds. The bottom, and top, crusts were paper-thin, almost as if they'd managed to take the thin crust from my cheese slice and slice it in half horizontally. And the stuffing, while certainly noticeable, wasn't, well, overabundant. Don't get me wrong - it was a tasty, well-balanced slice. I'm just saying, don't confuse this with a deep-dish or casserole-type pizza.
That said, this was a heavier slice than the cheese slice, since it was mostly meat. The cheese layer was also thin but solid, covering the entire slice. Neither it nor the underside were as browned as on the cheese slice. The pepperoni slices on top were hardly necessary, but added some additional flavor.
On a separate visit, I got a Buffalo chicken slice, and a white-pizza veggie slice, which made for a more nutritionally balaced duo than on my other visit. The former came with finely diced chicken, tossed in a medium-hot Buffalo sauce, along with Ken's blue cheese dressing and mozzarella. A smattering of banana pepper rings added a vinegary edge and a bit more heat, although the overall flavor profile still hovered around medium. If you're tolerant enough of spicy food to be ordering one of these, then I'm sure you'd have no problem with the heat level on this one.
At first, I thought the veggie slice was Cam's take on a Margherita, but no, that's not basil, that's spinach, and that's feta, not fresh mozzarella.
Cam's veggie pizza is described as being topped with "fresh spinach on a bed of garlic butter &
Grande mozzarella with your choice of tomatoes or artichokes, finished
off with feta cheese crumbled over the top" (obviously this one had tomatoes). Those made for an enjoyable combination.
When I was a kid, I loved Popeye cartoons, but they never convinced me to eat spinach. In fact, I've long thought that Popeye cartoons were pro-spinach propaganda, but now I realize that they probably did more to turn me off spinach than anything else. I knew that if ate spinach (canned spinach, no less), my biceps wouldn't really blow up like a balloon, nor would I be able to turn an alligator into a matching set of luggage with one punch from my cinderblock-size fists, but I did get the impression from those cartoons that kids were expected to hate spinach, so I refused to touch the stuff.
Of course, the spinach on my family's dinner table at that time was usually the frozen kind, which is about as appetizing as the stuff you clean out of your gutter in late fall. So it was a revelation for me to discover, as an adult, that fresh spinach leaves are actually not bad. Not on my favorite-foods list, but not bad, and they contributed a nice flavor here, which was well complemented by the sharp, salty feta, garlic butter and tomatoes. Even the tomatoes were reasonably good - they looked to be Roma tomatoes, which in the off-season especially, are often a better choice than so-called "slicing" tomatoes.
I'm not going to individually rate all these pizza slices. I will say that in general, they were typical of Cam's - reliably good, if not quite top-tier, thin-crust pizza. The crusts were decent, reasonably crisp, with some light charring, and the toppings were of good quality and tasty. I'd say these average out to about a B-plus.
Cam's Pizzeria, 1290 Mt. Hope Ave., Rochester 14620
Tel.: 256-7437 (PIES)
Hours: Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m.