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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pontillo's, Hudson Ave. & East Ridge

Some time ago, somebody asked for a review of the Pontillo's in Irondequoit. I'm sorry it's taken so long, but I finally made it there.
Often, I like to get a plain cheese slice, or maybe a pepperoni slice, as they serve as useful benchmarks for pizza. But on this occasion, confronted with a wide variety of slices to choose from at lunchtime, I went with a Buffalo chicken slice and a pepperoni Sicilian slice. Next time I'm up that way, I'll get a regular cheese slice.
The Buffalo chicken slice was very thin and easy to fold, with a lightly browned bottom. It was not at all charred, unlike most Pontillo's pizzas I've had. (As has been pointed out before, Pontillo's is a very loosely knit chain, with different locations often sharing no more than a name, so what you get at one may not be much of an indicator of what you'll get at another.) But there was no greasiness, either; the underside was dry and a bit floury, with some surface crackling, a good sign of a crisp crust. The edge was nice and bready, with the texture and flavor of Italian bread.
Buffalo chicken pizza may be one of the most variable styles, with options including tomato sauce, hot sauce, breaded or unbreaded chicken (which might be ground or cubed), mozzarella or blue cheese, celery, carrots, and various permutations of all of those. This one was topped with a thin layer of wing sauce. It was fairly mild, but packed some punch, as it more flavor than physical substance, as compared with a typical tomato-based pizza sauce.
Atop that, small chunks of diced, unbreaded white meat provided the protein. They were a little on the dry side (wouldn't dark meat be closer to real wings?), but you may prefer that to right-out-of-the-fryer, breaded chicken coated with grease that spreads oil all over the pizza.
The cheese here seemed to be all mozzarella. It was about as thick as the crust itself, but since the crust was thin, this wasn't overly cheesy pizza. If there was any blue cheese in there, it was well in the background, as I didn't taste any. The overall flavor of this slice was of chicken, overlaid with mild Buffalo-style spices, with the thin but bready crust as a base, and the mozzarella cheese as a condiment. In some ways, this was almost like a Buffalo chicken wrap - a cup of blue cheese dipping sauce would've been nice.
I don't recall having seen Sicilian slices at any Pontillo's before, not that I'm any expert on Pontillo's, but that's why I opted for one here. These were available with either cup-and-char or "regular" pepperoni, and I chose the former.
This slice was about an inch thick, and roughly six by six inches. The underside was well browned, and just slightly oily to the touch, which is not uncommon for a pan-baked pizza. It was firm underneath, with a bit of crunch on the surface, and dotted with bubble holes and craters of various sizes. As I have generally found to be true of Pontillo's crusts, this one was chewy and bready, with a well-risen interior marked by numerous air pockets.
The tomato sauce also seemed very similar to what I've had at other Pontillo's locations, with a medium-thick consistency and a touch of sweetness. The mozzarella cheese didn't blanket the entire slice, but seemed to have settled into some low spots on the surface as it melted. The pepperoni was more evenly distributed and was good and crisp along the edges, with a nice crunch followed by a meaty chewiness. All in all, the slice was on the heavy side, a bit dense, but more from the substantial, thick, chewy crust than in an overloaded or oil-soaked way, as is the case with some pan-baked pizzas.
The Irondequoit Pontillo's has a little seating, and a basic menu consisting of pizza, calzones and wings. Service was friendly, despite the lunchtime crush. Oh, and despite the official address, the entrance is on Hudson Ave., just north of East Ridge.
These were both pretty good slices, further confirming that despite its loose-knit organizational structure, Pontillo's generally turns out reliably good pizza. I'll give the Buffalo chicken slice a B, on the strength of its good crust and tasty toppings. The Sicilian gets a B as well, for a crust with nice crunch, appropriate density and chew, and overall good balance.
Pontillo's,702 E. Ridge Rd. (Hudson Plaza), Rochester 14621
Tel.: (585) 467-6900
Hours: Mon. - Wed. 3 p.m. - 10 p.m., Thu. - Sun. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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