Continuing my exploration of Rochester's New York style pizza roots, I stopped the other day at Pizza King in Wellsville (seen here, just across the street from the Evil Empire). If you've been following the blog lately, you'll know that this is the pizzeria opened by the brother of Bill Giovanniello, who owns Giovanni's in Hornell, which indirectly led to The Pizza Stop, Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, and - oh, just read the blog post.
So - Pizza King in Wellsville (there's another in Hornell, which is sort of related - again, read the previous post) was opened by Bill's brother Peter, or Pietro, in 1972. He's since retired, and the business is now run by his son.
I'd previously been through Wellsville, but not in a while. It seemed like a cool little town, more interesting than I'd remembered. There were a few vacant storefronts, to be sure, but some funky, well preserved spots that looked worth a visit in themselves, like Modern Diner (see bottom photo), the Beef Haus, the Texas Hot diner, and Better Days tavern, which was open but had a large "For Sale" sign in front. Wellsville in on Rt. 417, which runs south of the expressway (Rt. 17 / I-86), but I recommend it if you're an off-the-beaten-track kind of person.
And then there's Pizza King, which with its red, white and green awning, looks as if it's been transplanted straight from Brooklyn.
I got two slices, one cheese, one pepperoni. These were good slices, thin but well balanced, with chewy, slightly browned cheese layer that complemented the foldable crust.
Having said that, these weren't quite true New York style slices. I believe Pizza King uses a conveyor belt oven, which is not in itself a bad thing, but in my experience such ovens don't turn out pizza that's as crisp underneath as you get from a typical gas oven, which is what you generally find in New York slice joints. These slices were also more uniformly browned underneath than I would expect from a downstate pizzeria. Again, we're getting into subjective issues of taste here, but a typical New York slice will tend to be charred in spots, and relatively pale in others, underneath and along the edges.
Now I like my pizza crisp, and a little charred. Others may like a more pliable, evenly browned bottom. Either way, these were undeniably tasty slices, and I happily downed them.
Pizza King offers 15 pizza toppings and seven specialty pizzas, plus calzones, strombolis, wings, subs, tacos, quesadillas, wraps and sides. There's some seating available.
In keeping with past practice, I won't assign a grade to these slices. I do that in part because I have no plan to cover the Southern Tier, or anywhere outside the Rochester area, in any depth, and I prefer to reserve the grades for Rochester-area places. But I'd put these in the "very good" range, and if I lived around Wellsville I think I'd have Pizza King's number stored in my phone. As you can see in the top photo, they're right across the street from an outpost of the Evil Empire, and after 40 years in business, they're clearly doing something right. So if you find yourself driving across the Southern Tier sometime, do yourself a favor, get off the expressway, and head west on Rt. 417. You'll find some cool little places, and maybe some good pizza, along the way.
Pizza King, 35 N. Main St., Wellsville, NY 14895
(585) 593-2330 or 593-7500
Sun. noon - 10 p.m., Mon. - Wed. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.